This is the first three chapters of Wendy Blackbird's "Eve's Advocate," her story about all of the mistreatment and suffering she endured in her young life, as a Jehovah's Witness, and how she managed to get closure. The rest of her story can be found at Eve's Advocate .
Chapter 1 Once Upon a Time
Please understand that everyone in this story has grown, evolved, learned, and changed. The story is living. I am not condemning anyone for their actions nor do I intend to state their intentions. I am only reporting my own experience in a multi-faceted play. Everyone has their own tale to tell. This one is mine.
“And then he says, “The writer must be true to truth.” And that’s the killer, because the only way to describe a human being truly is by describing his imperfections. The perfect human is uninteresting–the Buddha who leaves the world, you know. It is imperfections of life that are lovable. And when the writer sends a dart of the true word, it hurts. But it goes with love. That is what Mann called “erotic irony,” the love for that which you are killing with your cruel analytical word.”– Joseph Campbell-
The Power of Myth
For you to follow my story I offer you these lenses. My life has been one of dreams and dreaming far more than waking and living. My tale winds through waking and sleeping as if there is no seam that separates the two. The reality of my dream time has been just as valid in my experience as my waking life. So I do not differentiate the two.
1st Corinthians 13 says that “Love believes ALL things.” So I strive to be like love, and trust that even if I don’t believe IN someone’s experiences I do believe that they believe IN what they experienced. This gives me ears that hear true wisdom and call nothing “imaginary “ or “foolish” with this perspective everything I see and hear from another’s experience becomes “wise” and “profound.”
I was raised in the Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This religion is not Christian and is not widely understood by those who are not its members so I offer you the language and understanding of my situation in order for you as the reader to be able to understand my story more fully.
I really believed in Jehovah God. I believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God but not God himself. I believed that only the 144,000 people in the book of Revelations could go to heaven, have immortality, or could even really be saved; and that everyone else just died and was buried. The only way you could be saved was if you lived through the apocalyptic Armageddon, and were considered righteous by Jehovah, or if Jehovah saw you as righteous during your sinful lifetime on Earth then he would resurrect you after the Earth had been restored to a paradise state. I was taught and believed that I didn’t need to go to college because this world’s teachings were not of value in the “new system of things” (the earthly paradise after Armageddon.)
“The Society” as we called the Watchtower, Bible, and Tract Society of Bethel, New York is a publishing company that distributes all of the publications of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and it is led by a few men who are “anointed” or holy by Jehovah’s grace and are part of the fortunate 144,000. These men are called the “governing body” and they make all the doctrinal and business related decisions for the entirety of the five million members. All of the congregations are known as Kingdom Halls. These men are the only members of the religion who can talk with God.
The rest of the 144,000 only have a sense of knowing they are in union with God and they along with the rest of the members of the religion are dependent on “The Society” for any kind of spiritual connection at all. They taught me that there is no guardian angel watching over me and that I am not allowed to hear voices of Spirit and angels. I was not allowed to have visions of dead loved ones or sense their presence. And all such energies including the laying on of hands for healing, are magic tricks of Satan the Devil. But I did hear voices and I did see ghosts.
I was able to see the world in a way most children don’t. I understood things that most children only dream of. I knew that despite the Jehovah’s Witness teachings that I had my own guardian angel. Asuna. I knew that our house was haunted. There was the ghost of a woman living in my closet and a banshee in the kitchen. I saw Native American Spirits circling in the living room in the middle of the night.
My father became an “elder” in the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This meant that he was a minister who you could go to for counsel or reproof. He gave sermons called “talks” and married people like a priest could. The “elders” consist of a few men in each congregation that are selected secretly and without the knowledge or vote of the congregation. They are chosen by the present elders and the “society.” My father was well loved at the Kingdom Hall and he was given decisions to make with two other elders. The Elders were empowered to decide on who would and would not be disfellowshipped.
Dis-fellowship is the word the JW’s use for excommunication. To be “disfellowshipped” means that one is no longer in good standing with the Kingdom Hall and the Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere. You may speak with no one in the religion except the elders and no one except the elders may speak with you including your own family members. The elders will not speak with you unless you approach them with a “repentant attitude.” If you are under age even your parents do not have to speak with you again. They must legally remain your parents but they are discouraged to communicate with you and if they choose to kick you out of your home before you are eighteen years old they are completely supported by their congregation.
When a Jehovah’s Witness sees a disfellowshipped Jehovah’s Witness they will walk away. They will leave a restaurant you are in. They will leave a store you work at, or they will just obviously ignore you as if you were not there at all even if you have to deal face to face with them.
Often if one family member is disfellowshipped the entire family is shunned socially. Other members do not like to invite a relative of a disfellowshipped one to social gatherings because of the awkwardness it may cause the practicing member. So when a parent is disfellowshipped it is as if the child is also disfellowshipped. If this is the case, the child still can not associate with friends from school, and they can not associate with their JW friends because of the social uncomfort of parents communicating arrangements with disfellowshipped parents. Children are encouraged to honor their disfellowshipped parent but to not discuss the religion with them and to stick to the religion’s guidelines above and beyond their parent’s guidelines. The children therefore are completely isolated from everyone who is in their circle.
The religion restricts the children from associating with “worldly people” which is anyone who is not part of the religion. We were not allowed to even receive phone calls from our classmates or participate in any school celebrations especially those that had to do with nationalism or holidays or birthdays because JW’s do not celebrate them. The youth of Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to take the initiative of separating themselves from others while in school. They are taught to not associate with certain “kinds” and to avoid connections that are not based on interest in the religion. They are taught to preach even in the classroom to their teachers and peers and if these do not show interest then they are to be preached at continually until they do or be shunned for expressing their disinterest in the religion. If a classmate or teacher does show interest they are to attempt to “place” a publication with that person and begin a “Bible Study” with them. These “Bible Studies” are in actuality the study of a publication printed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and have very little to do with the Bible but is more focused on religious doctrine. Youth of JW’s are expected to be in “field service” going from house to house and door to door preaching God’s word the Bible. If for some reason a youth has spare time to do an extracurricular activity then they should be in field service instead.
None of us were allowed to be involved with extracurricular activities related with our schools including clubs, sports, or volunteer projects. All of our doings were closely scrutinized by our parents and timed to make sure we were not elsewhere than where we had said. We were also not allowed to attend dances not even homecoming or prom because these supposedly promoted fraternizing that may lead to fornication and drug use.
To all appearances my father made a great elder and carried his responsibilities with peace. Yet at home we knew Father as someone else. My father is a barrel chested stout man with Popeye-the-sailor arms. He was a Navy Seal in the original EOD (Explosive Operations Disposal) program. First Class Petty Officer Ulmo Dagon. He helped build underwater research habitats off the coast of San Diego and the Florida Keys, he traveled to far countries to erect the world’s first satellite dishes, and was a contributing designer to the Living Seas at EPCOT Center. He joined the CIA and became involved in top secret missions. He didn’t become a JW until 1975. The religion had projected 1975 as the “end of the world.” My mother had been a JW for several years already and she finally convinced my father to join the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses out of fear of the apocalyptic end.
He was a man of good heart, sincere mind, and sharp discipline. He bowed under the hand of Big Brother’s demand for high production and success over all other nations. He came from a time of “Yes ma’am” and “No sir” manners, and had no nonsense parents, that didn’t put up with his high school drunken brawls and motorcycle stunts.
Ulmo was an alcoholic because he wanted to escape from his Navy SCUBA salvage work which required him to remove the blued and saturated corpses of seamen, and explosives from sunken secret ships and submarines. He entered the world of Jehovah’s Witnesses with a will not to “spare the rod” on his children for their sins and the weakness to drown his guilt and suffering with alcohol.
The day I was brought home from the hospital my brother Jonah was in the front yard of the trailer being beaten by my father until he couldn’t walk for mouthing off. Jonah did manage to stand up and say to Dad, “You like beating little children because it makes you feel like a man!” Jonah’s thin frame quickened from the black and blue bruises as Dad took his belt from his waist and from a few feet away whipped the belt around Jonah’s throat and pulled him to the ground. This was a normal day in my life from day one.
I do not judge my father for what he did. He didn’t understand what he was doing. He was doing the best he knew how, with his upbringing and with Navy Seal training. He came from the world of men. His children though, came from a world more sheltered than a lamb in a box living to become veal, and just as abusive. His expectation of us to have soldier like qualities were based on the idea that strength and virtue were genetic not taught.
Dad was gone a lot and was unaware of all the happenings of the household in his absence. He always came home happy to see us. He had probably done some intense covert work and just wanted to be with his kids peacefully and relax. My mom would greet him with alcohol and make him comfortable for the first half-hour. She waited until he was good and drunk and then she pulled us away from him and began screaming in his face about what each one of us had done in his absence.
Mom was the mouthpiece and she wanted Dad to be the disciplinarian. She listed off things we had done months ago and had forgotten. She emasculated my dad with her words and demanded that he take on his role as disciplinarian. “Lily did this and this and this, Jeud did this and this and this, Arthur did… Joan did… and Jonah!” It was always a long list for Jonah.
Jonah took all of Jeud’s spiritual experiences and all of my sightings of ghosts to the elders. He threw them into the faces of the elders demanding biblical explanations and religious explanation. He challenged them to the point that when my father came back after six months of having some “roofing job” in Nigeria that was top secret or some satellite dish construction job in India for almost a year, my father would immediately discipline him. Dad explained the embarrassment of his rebellious boisterous son to the elders and asked for forgiveness on Jonah’s behalf. My father did not need to deal with this “humiliation.”
Jonah was his thin effeminate feminine obsessed boy who would not “keep house” while the man was away. He was not a Navy Seal, nor the material to become one. He was not all the things my dad thought, “makes a man,” and after being in a world of domineering powerful and controlling men to come home and deal with “this shit” was the last straw. Dad would snap and de-compartmentalize. He would mercilessly whip Jonah with buckle end of his belt. Fourteen years old and Jonah would be to the point where he was spitting teeth out and his ribs would be broken and my mother would not take him to the hospital. He would still get up and say, “Fuck you and your religion!” Jonah gave me a gift from his actions; he gave me the will to survive.
My sister Joan was in trouble all the time. She was the oldest: the first born. My parents were always yelling at her and the raging that went on through the walls was like the hurricanes that battered our Florida home. My father would send her into the yard to select a branch from a tree with which he would use to flog her for her sins. Jonah would hold me and rock me in his lap as our mother and father tornadoed their curses on our sister who just wanted to love a boy who was not part of our religion. She became disfellowshipped after turning 18 and was kicked out of our home into the street.
My oldest brother Arthur, was a benevolent and gentle being that obeyed readily and showed our father respect by calling him “sir” on every occasion even when he was drunk and insane. Arthur was the “peace keeper” in the family. He resisted any conflicts and tried to remain mellow even when being verbally attacked by our mother. Our father showed him respect for honoring our mother despite and left him alone for the most part. He was a surfer and spent a lot of time with other Jehovah’s Witness boys at the beach. He was hardly at home and found as many odd jobs as he could to save money. He became employed as an architect draftsman and moved out of the house at eighteen and into his own apartment. He was what my father believed to be a man. He was treated as if he was my father’s only true child.
When my father was drunk and beating my other siblings almost ritually after Jehovah’s Witness meetings, I would retreat to my room and snuggle with the stuffed animal assembly on my bed. We would circle up and pray together. Raggedy Ann and Andy would dance about the walls as the turquoise bed spread would shimmy shift and rise off the mattress like cartooned waves of the sea. The flutter of white angel wings would surround me with the sound of heavy paper shifting in the air. The giggles of faeries and gnomes would sweep into the room with the sound of the ocean and flutes. The walls of my room fell away and the sea was at my bedside, cool rippling azure. I would see nymphs in the surf and dolphins on the warped horizon. All of my stuffed animals became animate and danced about me singing Celtic fairy songs. Warm water was between my toes and the soft nebulas of colored novas above my head that I could reach out and touch gently. I scooped stars up from the shore and tossed them to the indigo sky.
My father never hit me and if he saw my mother hitting me he made her stop because I was “Daddy’s little girl.” I was safe. No matter what happened anywhere else on earth– even in my living room I was safe.
But when I told my mother that I saw these things and that I knew things before they happened she took a wooden yardstick to me and left long stingy red stripes on my back. My brother Jonah would put cold wash clothes on them and blow on the stings while whispering to me to not tell Mom again but to only trust him and my other two brothers and my sister. They had seen and heard. They had all had “the demons” beaten from them.
I was six years old when I started practicing intuitive yoga only to be struck for being ‘lewd’ or ‘disgusting.’ I did downward facing dog into full cobra and my mother would slap me and tell me to stop doing “butt-ups.” I did full lotus and she didn’t say anything because she called it ‘Indian-style.’ But when I did mudras with my hands she told me not to do the “signs of the devil,” and slapped them down. She thought I had asthma and took me to doctors for it when I did ‘breath of fire.’ There was always something terminally “wrong” with every child in the mind of my mother.
I was closest to my older brother Jeud, he and I were wild, curious adventurers. We stood witness to the abuse in our family more often than experienced it directly. At a young age Jeud and I began to meditate. Meditation is a sin that invites in Satan the Devil as far as the JWs are concerned, but for Jeud and I it was a way out. During Jehovah’s Witness meetings at the Kingdom Hall, I watched Jeud roll his eyes back, gently close the lids, and make fisted mudras in his lap, as the drone of sermons moved to the back of his attention. He seemed withdrawn from the room. I began practicing this as well. Jeud taught himself his own form of martial arts. He spent hours in the back yard walking on the edge of the fence and doing one-armed handstands. He intuitively channeled the martial arts and learned from the “JEDI Masters and the Force.” My parents ignored his spiritual practice as a child’s wild imagination caught up with Star Wars.
I learned to think double sided. I learned to practice one thing and represent another. I learned to wear a mask. I was learning magic by way of identifying myself as a Jehovah’s Witness but hiding my true beliefs and dreams under the cloak of illusion. I didn’t call it magic and if I used the word I was threatened to have my mouth washed out with soap. So I didn’t say the word magic. I was learning: to be invisible, to perform JEDI mind tricks, and to disappear. Everything around me became a symbol of a faery tale world. I saw people as dragons, wicked witches, and faeries. I identified people as characters from a faery tale. I romanticized my imagination by painting myself into storylines and out of my reality.
After my brother Jeud was caught shop lifting at Disney World and was pulled into the underground tunnel system, treated like a criminal at nine years old, and then banished from the park for taking a lollipop all of his illusions about this reality melted. He saw through the commercial projection of the Faerie Realm and into the darkness of this “system of things.” He would openly present himself to me as a Prince of Darkness. He explained to me the difference between a Sith and a JEDI. A JEDI serves the force and allows it to flow through them and they wield the force to do only good. A Sith though has the JEDI force as well but they wield it to serve themselves and to gain power from others. He thought that Luke should have joined Darth and ruled the Empire. He would joke around about his magical practice and even created his own symbols on the back of his closet wall so that mother would not find them. He wrote in crescent backwards letters on the wall of his room, “The Realm of the Black Light.”
We moved to Sherwood Forest Park on Alan Adale Road. Alan Adale is the troubadour who told the tale of Robin Hood and Maid Marion. Our house was built in the 1950’s on the middle of a Native American burial ground. We lived a half hour south of NASA (which my father visited regularly), an hour east of the plastic fairy kingdom Disney World, and the far western point of the Bermuda Triangle. There were two old growth silver oaks in my front yard standing sentinel across from one another. I imagined one stood for Robin and the other for Maid Marion. I dreamed that these trees were beloved to each other and that some day Robin would rescue me from my dark castle and take me off with his merry men to play in the wild of the world.
I was allowed to read fairy tale books and I owned every one of them. Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Rose Red, Sleeping Beauty, and several other books and stories mostly by Hans Christian Anderson. Reading was my favorite avenue of escape from the violence in my home.
When my father was home he read to me in the most tender loving tone that opened doors of my mind into a dreamland divine. He mostly read My Book of Bible Stories written by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. When he read I drifted gently into another world. A world I knew as familiar and more my own than the one I lived in. I looked up at the white islet canopy over my bed and envisioned Solomon seeking his true love, and David dancing nude in the streets of Jerusalem. I would see Bathesheba, and Sarah, and Moses. These were my super heroes. These were my icons of wonder and mystery.
Moses was the greatest wizard I had ever heard about. Queen Esther was far more courageous than quiet, obedient Snow White. The princesses in the fairy tales always fled but Esther was bold and stood her ground. Rapunzel never thought of jumping out a window to save her self. I always thought Rahab helping two spies into her window to destroy Jericho was more interesting. The women of the Bible were powerful and fearless. The fairy tale women were submissive, silent, used for their faithfulness and hope.
On the nights when my parents fought I often crawled out of bed once silence filled the space of screaming and found my father in the wooden rocking chair crying. He would weep for hours while he rocked me to sleep. He would tell me how all he really wanted in his life, family, and for the planet was peace. Just peace. He believed in “doing what was right” and believed his stern discipline was necessary to teach us the ways of the world so that we would become wise and strong.
I watched my mother, Ophelia Dagon, waver between these roles. She would be too much in her power some days and yell at my father and scream until he began to beat blindly. She waited until he was drunk and then found her strength in his weakness. She nagged and said cruel things to him. She questioned his manhood and belittled his fatherhood until he disciplined us all. Then she’d fall silent and cry at the black blue faces of her children. She’d rush around in a panic to reassemble the living room and straighten the curtains.
I don’t blame my mother for her part in my strange childhood either. She came from an alcoholic abusive family with a heart broken alcoholic mother who taught her and her sister that their duty in life was to grow up and get married to the very first man so that she could divorce their father and get on with her life. And so my mother did. She got married the day after her high school graduation to my dad, a Navy Seal who took her away from her Santa Barbara beat nick life to Washington D.C. where she began to have his children while he disappeared for months at a time, leaving the country to do under cover missions without anyway to contact him, knowledge of his whereabouts, or when and IF he’d be coming home. My mother raised us on her own from when she was 18 years old. She had me, her fifth child by the time she was thirty-five and still had never had a life of her own. She survived for years on little to no income and often depended on the Salvation Army, Goodwill, the Food Bank and handouts to feed us children in my father’s absence. She was tired, scared, sad, hurt, suffering, and lonely.
My mother just wanted to be loved. She believed that keeping things honest, “out on the table” and communicated clearly even in high pitched screaming was important for the development of truth and honesty in our family. She believed that struggle in communication was effective and worth it when the out come created resolution and order. She too just wanted peace and she was willing to fight for it.
My mother was convinced that because of our psychic powers, “all the children are insane”(the doors) and she started with hospitalizing my sister at age sixteen when her boyfriend put a dose of LSD in her sandwich at a JW convention. Joan picked me up on her back and ran barefoot through the convention center skipping and dancing. She had no idea that she had been dosed. No one did. They took her to a hospital and declared her crazy. She went along with it once she realized it was drugs. She would rather be called crazy and be given a few weeks bed rest than a beating for being on acid.
Mother tried to hospitalize my father when Jonah was in the hospital getting his tonsils removed. All Dad had done was rub Arthur’s shoulders a little and Mom later sent police to the house to have Dad arrested. She claimed he had been choking Arthur violently. Even Arthur was surprised when the police arrived to take Dad away.
That’s how my life went until we went to the Pacific Northwest (when I was five years old) to visit my father’s parents on their property called the Dagon Sky Ranch at Trout Lake of Trout Lake, Washington. That’s when I knew beyond doubt, parents, school or religion that magic is real and God/dess lives in nature. God/dess lives in All. Arthur, Jonah Jeud, Mom, Dad and me flew out by plane to Oregon. We spent some time visiting my mother’s family and discovering swimming holes on the Santiam River outside of Salem. The trees were amazing to me. They were ancient sentinel beings full of magical strength and enduring testimony. Their green laced filled branches cast shadows in the moonlight that sparked my imagination full of faerie fire. That is when I started to feel it. The nature: The Mother.
We met my grandparents in Salem and caravanned to Mount Hood. My grandfather, in his gruff Ernest Hemingway meets Thoreau silent way, drove a blue VW bus that got four flat tires in the back country wilderness of the mountain on the way to the cabin. In all the curses and screams of my family, I watched my grandfather keep a serene patience on his face. He did what he had to without complaining, without fighting, and certainly without cursing. My family was acting as though we were experiencing a nightmare, sweaty, parched, on the edge of the mountain and having to thumb down rides to get another tire. After they were all replaced on the bus, one blew on Dad’s car rental and everyone heaved sighs of anguish and boredom; except me. I was witnessing greatness. Grandma was keeping us all entertained and sustained on snacks she had brought. She told me the names of the trees and of the peaks that poked through the horizon line of Cascadia. I was above the world. Above the ocean.
I looked out over the waves of hills and mountains searching for angels in the soft licks of clouds that were painted on the bluest skies. The red earth was thick under my green and yellow sneakers. My footing was unsure on the gravel roads and strange buzzes of yellow jackets hummed everywhere. This was not plastic Disney World. This was not the swampy humid Everglades. Co-existing with nature was not an option in Florida. The heat, the swamps, the alligators, mosquitoes, water snakes, water moccasin snakes, wild boars, and all the unknowns of the green murky bodies of water, and the shark infested beaches all lead me to fear nature. It was not something I could have a share in; it was not something I could immerse in. Only my relationship with the Atlantic ocean kept me connected with the earth. Here in the Pacific Northwest I could be nature. I could embrace the tender love and attentiveness of my grandparents; I could be in the peace of a real enchanted kingdom. I could be a child while being a child and not the caretaker of the older wanderers that were my guardians.
My grandparents knew nothing of the Jehovah’s Witness ways and cared nothing of them either. They were grandparents in love with their grandchildren and loving us, for the first time in our lives, unconditionally. Our own family was to be strangers to us, unless they became interested in the religion we were not to associate with them. So here we were, four of the five grand kids on their turf, in their world, and completely without our religion binding our souls and spirits.
When we arrived at the Dagon Sky Ranch we were relieved and I was high from the elevation and the love. My grandfather had a tipi behind the cedar log cabin they had built. The tipi opened the opportunity for Grandfather to talk with us about the Great Spirit, who in our religion was a direct link to Satan. To me at five years old the Great Spirit sounded more like a jolly grinning generous grandpa, or a sweet, gentle, firm, and beautiful grandma offering sweet wild strawberry pie but certainly not the wicked and vindictive devil. My grandparent’s world seemed so much more peaceful and fearless than mine. Their world seemed to be the Eden that my religion prayed so hard to return to Earth. Here at Trout Lake it was already manifest and I could saturate myself in it fully without a dogma that choked the joy out of my heart.
At no point in my life, until then, or since then, have I witnessed my family behave in a way that made us all content and peaceful. We didn’t argue, no one was beaten or disciplined beyond a firm word, no one cried, and everyone was hugging and laughing, telling jokes, and getting excited about spending more time together. Even my parents loved each other and I had never seen such beauty and unison in their eyes for each other and for us. We were a family at Trout Lake not the broken shards of glass that we were in Florida as Jehovah’s Witnesses. We didn’t attend any of the JW meetings and not once did we even mention the world we had left behind. We were in heaven and there was no past– only the present.
Trout Lake became my solace. It was the spiritual retreat of my soul through every trauma I was yet to experience. It became my dream to return to and own Trout Lake and share this magical place with my grandchildren. I would flee to it in my sleep and sit in my grandmother’s rocking chair by the furnace and see the patchwork quilt thrown over the red sofa by the window. I would weed the garden in my dreams and find myself lucid inside the tipi. I would eat pie by the wood stove and drink tea on the deck. It was my other world to run to when I chose to escape this one. My heart existed there in that moment in time, in space, when it could not breathe here.
When I was fourteen, I returned there after having been baptized into the religion. I really did believe in the religion but my return to Trout Lake was like passing in to the land of the Narnia and I allowed my sense of natural heathenism to overtake me which sent me running into fairy country. I came alive, crowned by the ecstatic charge of nature. It was this beauty that permeated me to the bone that I secretly believed to be Jehovah. This began my venture to seek this beauty all of my life with a thirsting passion and an undeniable drive.
I did not want to just find that place of pure bliss for fleeting moments or by synthetic means. I wanted “the promise” that Christ made to the criminals: “Truly I promise you today you will be with me in paradise.” I wanted Utopia, Atlantis, Hannahlee, Oz, Narnia, Valinor, Canaan, Eden, and I wanted it for forever and nothing less.
I diligently studied my copy of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures published by The Watchtower, Bible, and Tract Society. I worshiped God in a personal prayer practice and study of the Bible. I studied publications from the Witnesses and I participated in field service door to door telling people about God. I prayed continuously hoping to be one of those that God may reach out to and see as worthy to do his work. I obeyed all the JW’s doctrines and danced in their social class to deem myself acceptable to the group. I answered questions at Watchtower, Bible study, and Book study meetings. I studiously attended five meetings a week prepared with the programming of each one, and followed the guidelines of this and only this religion from my childhood on. There was no other spiritual or religious influence other than this path and my own heart. To me this was the path to God that I had been born into, and I was determined I would with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength reach him. I was dedicated to walking the Christ path even if it meant dying. Even though I did not understand many things and did not see how the Society came to conclusions and projections about scriptures, I was humble enough to learn and listen patiently while trusting the intuitions that arose in my heart. I relied on this religion to be my lamp in the darkness and lead me until I could walk on my own.
I watched other children celebrating holidays, birthdays and other Christian celebrations. I kept silent with faith that the “true god” was leading me. My brothers and my sister had experienced love and celebration in the family prior to my mother joining the religion. When she joined she called all of our family members and told them never to send Christmas, holiday, or birthday presents again. She refused to connect with the rest of the family at holidays and birthdays. She refused to receive gifts that were sent even though one of us would beg to open the gift for our birthday. We suffered as children. Extended families typically only make contact at holidays and birthdays because these have become reminder markers for connection. Without those days and without the welcoming of connection our family became alienated from the extended family. I didn’t know my extended family until I was twenty-one years old.
The religion teaches that you should not associate with family or friends who do not readily accept the truth of Jehovah’s Witnesses being God’s only true organization, and therefore the only appropriate association was with other members of the religion.
It is a bubble of consciousness that can not be penetrated or evacuated without the permission of the religion. Every aspect of consciousness has a religious teaching controlling it. No life, work, family, friend, or parental decision is made without the influence and guidelines of the religion. Because the religion is so dedicated to restricting and controlling consciousness it becomes a breeding ground for non verbal communication and disapproval expressed through energies like guilt, shame, and a sense of unworthiness regardless of how much you contribute with your positive energy.
The organization goes so far as to have the AWAKE! Magazine report current events and world issues from a Jehovah’s Witness perspective so that a member can choose to not read other journalistic publications. Within this magazine the JW’s have rewritten history to fit their liking and project the future to accommodate their apocalyptic vision. The members trust the information given to them as purely factual and that is not always the case. Many times I learned history in school and the AWAKE! wrote contrary information that did not align with fact. But I could not speak out about this because then I would be labeled rebellious or worse labeled an apostate.
If you reject anything the JW’s teach, you are quickly told to readjust your attitude towards Jehovah’s organization. And if you have been baptized and then reject the teachings you are labeled an apostate. The apostates are those who supposedly know that the organization is teaching the “truth” but have rejected the “truth” and who then begin to tell people the opposite of what the JW’s teach, even if it is indeed true to life’s historical fact. So if you do any research independently of the religion to try to find your own personal truth and it contradicts the religions teachings and you speak against the JW teaching, you are also an apostate. Any time you think differently than what they say is expected of you then you are being influenced by demons and are being led to apostasy. If anyone else in the organization approaches you with ideas that are different from the organization then they are demonized and are an apostate.
According to the JW’s the “truth” is that only 144,000 people can become anointed by God and go to heaven. So if you have any kind of real spiritual awakening and know that you are not one of the 144,000 then you are automatically demonized, excommunicated and an apostate. Even if you achieved that awakening through their very own teachings. This consciousness process entraps your mind and silences your heart with fear of the witch/apostate hunt that happens within the organization. They will projectile you out of the organization for having a voice, thought, or opinion that differs. Many apostate ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses go to the conventions and hold up signs that read, “don’t you get it?” These protesters do not make a bit of difference to the practicing members. They only validate the fear based thinking creating the us vs. them scenario. They validate the Society’s teaching of “that is what you become when you think differently.” They relate apostates to wild animals who have lost their senses and reasoning abilities due to their service to Satan. The practicing members use this to strengthen their faith in the society.
Being a sensitive, empathetic, psychic child this environment was torturous ground. It only took one harsh comment by an elder to make me cry for days and starve myself to self-discipline with the hope of becoming worthy in Jah’s eyes. I was conditioned to believe that Jehovah directly controlled the religion so that all injustices were completely justified by the Bible. All things that my heart innately told me were true were readily crushed by the teachings of the Society. This caused me suffering from the heart outwards. I could talk with no one about what my heart told me to be true because if I spoke of fairies, witches, and ghosts I would be instantly labeled demonic and rejected by everyone including my parents. Yet there was a gift given to me by Spirit, my best and dearest friend Vena.
My mother had a stroke after I was born and I was entrusted to her best friend Bonnie’s care, who was one month pregnant with Vena. I was on Bonnie’s belly waiting for Vena to join me in our imaginary world. It was safe to talk of faeries and witches with Vena. It was safe to practice woodland magic in the patch of trees outside of her property. It was safe to be full of wonder and imagination. We kept each other’s secrets and built worlds out of sand castles, trees, and clouds.
While growing up Vena and I compared notes about what happened in her congregation and mine. We were mostly interested in who was in trouble for what and what the elders did to punish them and how the contradiction and the lies played out with different families. It seemed the families with clout in the congregation or with status like an Elder or a Ministerial Servant (the preachers) would be let off with a discreet talking to where as the poor or the single mothered children would be publicly reproved as if we were living in the Puritan days of newly born America. We also paid close mind to the women whose husbands cheated on them and they were not disfellowshipped yet when the women cheated on their husbands they were disfellowshipped.
The treatment of women in the religion fascinated Vena and I to no end. A woman was not allowed to be a minister or an elder. There was no avenue for women to teach within the religion except in door to door ministries as pioneers and auxiliary pioneers in field service. Pioneers were those who spent full time and part time preaching. Women are allowed to participate in the Ministry school but they can not speak directly to the audience. They must play a skit out to each other about how a field service conversation or a bible study with a householder may go. Vena and I were key to notice how women were treated when commenting at the Watchtower study on Sundays. This is where we are all expected to read the Watchtower, then answer the questions for each paragraph and regurgitate what the society wants us to think the Bible says. Men who commented from the heart instead of reading the prompted answer were widely commended and women who did the same were widely condemned. Even though a woman could be part of the 144,000 they still were not allowed to be Ministers because the apostle Paul said that women should be silent in the congregations. It is a horrible thing for a young woman growing up in the religion to have not only every part of her consciousness bound to patriarchy and her throat bound to silence but to be bound from her own ecstatic spirit and personal connection to Goddess. It was as if many of us were underground witches and priestesses protecting our powers and ourselves by silencing them.
Unfortunately Vena and I became witnesses to the embitterment of many women and the death of their hope, faith and love. We were watching our sisters squirming around with the teachings of the religion and watching them burn with anger against the dogma, but not saying anything because they believed that somehow this was the truth and they wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t. They were so afraid of being in their goddess nature because it would cost them their parents, their family, and all of their friends, not to mention public scorn when encountered on the street. They are enslaved to man in this religion and are not in touch with the feminine spirit at any level except for within and even then doubt, fear, guilt, shame, and denial rule their thoughts and squelch their hearts. If they made it known that they believe in a feminine spirit they would be excommunicated and would never be spoken to again unless they would come back and repent everything they innately spiritually know to be the real truth.
Chapter 2 End of the Innocent
Lilith was banished from Adam’s garden by God for not submitting to the dominion of her partner. Adam was then put into a deep sleep and from him a rib was taken to create his wife Eve.
In the garden there stood two trees. The tree of life would give Adam and Eve immortality in the blessed Eden. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil would give them the taste of death in the barren wilderness of Earth. They were told not to touch the second tree but it was placed within their reach to show they had free will and the right to choose.
Lilith returned to the tree and reasoned with Eve until she ate from it.
And the rest is Herstory.
When I was fourteen an amazing thing happened to me. I was raped. It was the most significant and the most opening experience to my Spirit.
Jesus took compassion to an extreme level. He had compassion for the “sinners” who persecuted and tortured him to death. He understood that they “knew not what they were doing” and forgave them even in the moment of his terror. Have you ever considered Jesus radical? A revolutionary? He was. He was an exemplar of love. It doesn’t matter if you think Jesus is a myth or a God. The story is there.
What about your story? What about your true love? The one you would die for, the one you would give your life for, the one that makes all things irrelevant save your love for them and their love for you. Have you ever felt such love in your lifetime that gave you a sense of immortality, of superhuman strength, of sincere compassion for suffering and even for rage? You may think, no, no one has touched me like that. But is that true?
What about the “one who got away” or the “high school sweetheart” that vanished from your world? Some carry an “old flame” or “torch” for someone “way back when” that we loved so much, but somehow time and circumstance wouldn’t allow unity with them. We roll the memory around like a fading sweet and sour candy wondering where they are now. What are they doing? Do they think of me still as I think of them? Or maybe you are with your “beloved” while the rest of us scratch and crawl blindly on the path of love in a desperate silent hunt for
There have been others who have died or suffered extremely for love. Nameless faceless millions who have been burned on the pyre, killed in battles, executed for their beliefs, struggling in family feuds, persecuted for loving outside of their genre, faith, race, culture, age etc. Do we know their stories or do we just keep perpetuating a few myths of enduring “Endless Love”? Stories like Antony and Cleopatra, Troilus and Cressida, Cathy and Heathcliff, Beatrice and Dante, Guinevere and Lancelot, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Mermaid, Madame Butterfly and Lieutenant Pinkerton, Lohengrin and Elsa, and many more fables that have pulled us into the timeless romance and driving pursuit we each hold individually for enduring love.
These stories are idolized all the way back in time to such tales as the Egyptian Isis and Osiris and the Greek Psyche and Cupid. Somehow these stories gave me a sense of hope and faith. They touch hearts with an intensity that up-heaves the memories of lifetimes of pursuing “the one/the beloved/the precious” and brings to heart the beauty of “the dance.” Yet we walk away from such truths casting aside their lessons as fairy tales pretending that there is no such ideal and that we must settle for less than what the heart begs us to seek.
Have you ever sat up all night watching romantic movies or passionately breezed through a love story that you wished wouldn’t end with the same tragedy every time you read it? Did Wuthering Heights rip your heart out in high school? Did Dostevesky move you to tears? Was the Rubaiyat your dream? Did Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet infiltrate your consciousness and somehow guide you through the day? Did Erich Segal discover something new to the human heart in “Love Story” or has that kind of endearment and adoration been granted to only a precious few on our planet? And is tragedy the only answer to such intense love?
Have you ever seen a play by Shakespeare and felt deep in the cavity of your chest that somehow he lifted humans into their true divinity? Or did you feel that passion like that is restricted to fiction, songs on the radio in the middle of the night, and chick flicks? Or have you been searching so long for love like this that you wouldn’t be able to identify it if it landed in your lap? Did you ever question why The Song of Solomon is an important book in the Bible when others about war and madness were excluded from the canon of scriptures, as we know it today? It is a love story.
“Love is longsuffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 NWT
When I read this definition of love I came to believe in it as the true definition. I came to trust that the word “All” meant everything good and bad. It doesn’t paint love as a whimsical dream or lah-tee-dah romance novel. It is a hard practice that one must persevere to be “in.”
Webster’s definition of Love: “A feeling of strong personal attachment and ardent affection.
- Desire for, and earnest effort to promote, the welfare of another, especially as seen in God’s solicitude for man and in man’s due gratitude and reverence to God.”
John 15:13, 14 Jesus says, “No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends. You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you.” Radical? Yes.
Jesus suffered not only death on a torture stake/cross but he suffered humiliation, persecution, and rejection from his own people because he wanted something more from life. He wanted something real and genuine between humans. Something beyond the ability to see with the eyes. Something that only the heart can know. Faith.
“Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” –Hebrews 11:1
Jesus had the expectation of receiving all he had hoped for in the kingdom of God because of the vision he had of God. “The evident demonstration of realities” was Jesus’ dream of the kingdom of God. His vision. His sight.
I didn’t know about how relationship worked or what Love means. I didn’t know it was something you grow into or that you learn to be with. I thought it was something that you are and that you do without questions. I thought it was my obligation to others and to mankind. I never asked, “Why must I love this person?” It was/is innate. There was/is no hesitation in the love I felt/feel for others. There is only compassion, empathy, sympathy, mercy, commiseration, condolence, and heart.
I found it difficult to work with the beginnings of these new feelings and I was not sure that it could even be called love at the time. He liked me I knew for sure. It was evident when Troy behaved radically in our eighth grade classes. To get my attention he threw chairs across the room and even struck a teacher once and then waved his hands in my face where I sat blankly blinking as if I was stone and he were air. He was trying so hard to get me to like him but in my world of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and with the repercussions associated with dating a boy outside of my religion, he was not worth the risk. So I ignored his bodacious courting as an irreverent ridiculous display of “manliness” and not as a genuine demonstration of love– as I knew it. Or believed that I knew it.
I was told by my mother to ignore him; not even give him “the time of day.” She told me he would have to become a Jehovah’s Witness for me to even talk with him outside of school. Troy was raised a second generation Italian Roman Catholic. It was an unreasonable projection to expect him to convert in order to date me at age 15. He just wanted to hang out after school and get to know me as a friend– as a brother walking this planet together. He didn’t understand the reasoning in what I was trying to do in relationship with my religion. I was trying to walk with the highest earnest to benefit him and others by being an exemplary Jehovah’s Witness. I was trying to walk the fine lines of the dogma to attain union with Christ. I was trying to do what I believed was good and righteous.
I was in fear of the wrath of Jehovah. The wrath of my mother being far worse still and the wrath of the judgment of my congregation that I attended. I was in fear of the narcs in school who would run and tell the elders they had seen me with a boy. This would lead to an “investigation” into my private personal life and all of my doings at home as well. It would even lead to the reading of my journals and discussions with my teachers about my association with Troy. I was trying to stay out of trouble.
With all of my indifference to Troy I held a great deal of compassion for him. I wasn’t attracted to him and felt no “romantic love” for him yet I was willing to be his friend. But as his pressure for my attention thickened my fear of him set in. He would come to my window at night and knock on the glass for hours even through the heavy tropical rain of Florida and I wouldn’t let him in.
He was in six of my seven classes at school including band class where he would use the full drum kit to show off his talent to me. I played flute in class and tried to keep to myself but the freedom of our mostly absent teacher allowed for more one on one interaction with Troy and he utilized every moment of that hour each day. Otherwise he had no other opportunity to talk with me.
I was polite and yes flirtatious but in no way inviting him to pursue me further than conversation. I liked him but didn’t relate to his Heavy Metal tastes or his high angst energy about the world. I saw the world as temporary. “Passing away” 1st John 2:17. Troy saw it as hell.
At home I endured scene after scene of verbal attacks from my mother about being involved with boys I hadn’t ever even spoken with. So when Troy tried to call my house there was a volcanic reaction and she condemned me for the grossest acts that I couldn’t even imagine. She was already taking the blame she had for me from her mind to the elders and I was going under “reproach” status in the Kingdom Hall without ever having “committed” any “sins” to their standards of lifestyle. So I figured I have already suffered the consequence of sin– why not enjoy the sin itself?
For my fourteenth birthday I decided to steal a kiss. I decided that there was nothing stopping me from it and that Troy was a willing participant. I needed to come of age and I needed to feel love from a male figure. It was my belief then that all attention from a male was positive because I only knew my father’s abuse and the trickle effect of my brothers’ abuse. I didn’t know that love was supposed to be beautiful and gentle. I thought that the abuse was love. I went to Troy’s house on my Piscean birthday and French kissed him once. It was strange delicious, icky, weird, and curiously curiouser. Intimacy was something that I had never known. Hugging and touching wasn’t part of my world. So this new affection became addictive and naturally needed.
I began to open the door to him at night when he tapped on the glass of my window. I became eager to sneak a kiss here and there with him on campus. I saw him all day long but it was in band class that we were really together. I made it clear that he could not say that we were “going out” because of the religion and that our connection had to be secret. The secrecy heightened the intensity of the new feelings that moved through me like warm gel and hot electricity. I never intended to go “all the way” with him and I repeatedly reminded him that he would not get there either. I wouldn’t let him touch my body or breasts but I sank into his kisses like hellfire in a blizzard. I was fascinated by experimenting.
My mother noted the various ranges of my emotion swooping from deliriously happy to dangerously depressed. Troy owned me. He controlled me and he often bruised me with his violent voice until I succumbed to him above and beyond my conscience. He would have me even without my consent. And so the more I resisted his demands for sexual intimacy the more he viewed me as prey. At school I pulled away from him wanting my freedom and space to be fourteen and not some woman he was seducing. I pulled away in band class and ignored him at lunch. I wanted no part of his animalistic cravings. But he saw me as “playing hard to get” and this increased his desire that would lead to the end of my maidenhood and the beginning of his “manhood.” In his mind I became the object of his much-needed conquest. His friends often teased him for his ‘little known secret,’ —virginity. Everyone else on campus thought him to be a “stud” and couldn’t understand my repulsion to his pleas for sex. It disgusted me to think of betraying my path to Christ by a simple carnal act. I was holding out for marriage. I was holding out for sainthood.
He became cruel and dominating. He verbally attacked me in class calling me a “tease” and a “slut” out of each corner of his mouth and proclaiming how many times he had already “nailed” me. This enraged my spirit deeply. My jewels were not going to the lowest bidder of my lifetime and he could go to hell and back as Satan’s own manservant and still he would not find my soul sold out for sex. It became something far more dangerous than two young kids playing with the fire of sexual experimentation. It became war.
In my heart of hearts I held compassion for him. His family was violence-centered and he himself had no concept of what love is or might be. He was making it up as he went along. He was in that phase of youth where you pretend you know something mysterious and yet unaccomplished by the majority of your age group so that others will attach themselves to you and think you are “cool” and worthy. He wanted that status of popularity because at that age it was the only recognition one could receive beyond being told ‘you’re a good student.’ He wanted to be treated as equal and as an adult. His suffering had been so continuous without any love in his life that he felt he had attained some kind of wise power through his outrage at the world that gave him innate rights and license to do as he pleased even at such a young age. He was the boy mother warned me about. He was the boy that all mothers warn their daughters about.
His spirit was one that could see the belly of the universe and cut its guts out with the knife of rage. He could see through the illusion and his anguish of not having the way to show another what he saw tormented him. He wanted to rip the movie screen from my eyes and reveal the truth of this world. He wanted to show me the “Big Generator”–(Bad Religion), the “machine”, the “meat grinder”—(of Pink Floyd The Wall), the “combine”(One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), and “The Matrix.”
He revered Metallica, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Ozzy Ozborne, Iron Maiden and Megadeath. These preached the gospel of his world. These were the prophets of his Armageddon. They were not mine. Mine went along the lines of Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Bronte, Jim Morrisson, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, Simon and Garfunkel, Jim Croce, Joe Cocker, and the anonymous author of “Go Ask Alice.”
Troy finally began to leave me alone and let me pass him by in the hallways. I felt bizarrely rejected. The tantrums in class subsided and the public displays of anger cooled. He became disinterested and distant. My power over him had dwindled and the game had ended. Or so I thought.
A month or two passed before he even tried to call my home again. My mother had forgotten his name and had finished hyperventilating with accusations and let me speak to him on the phone. He was drunk and crying. He wanted me to go out with him. It was his spring equinox birthday and his parents had bought him a new cherry red Thunderbird. He was sixteen and hadn’t gotten his driver’s permit yet. He asked for me to go for a ride with him and I said no. My mother was standing next to me with arms folded and a Watchtower Magazine rolled up in her fist which she used to smack me with whenever she felt I was disobedient. “God as a weapon,” I use to think. I said no to Troy and hung up on his teary pleas. I turned to my mother who stood pursed mouth and stern.
“Are you happy now?” I screamed and retreated to my room trying to distinguish my feelings between being so angry with her and the religion, and so repulsed by Troy’s disgusting prompting and rejection. I couldn’t feel myself anymore. I just trusted that I was doing what Jehovah expected of me.
The next morning as I struggled with the reflection in the mirror I reasoned that I was being cruel and mean to Troy and I desired to renew our connection as friends. The mirror seemed to smirk back at me with an “I told you so” attitude that set me on edge and I left the bathroom quickly. Spooked. The phone rang and I scurried to pick it up before my mother heard and awoke. It was Troy.
He said he had tried calling me at 2 and 3 AM but my mother had answered and he was grateful now that it was I. His voice wasn’t strong and full like it usually was on the phone but broken, weakened, and more tearful than the night before. He repeated himself over and over.
“Lily, please come see me. She is dead. Dead. She died you know. She has no head, she is dead.” His mouthful of words came out like gurgling salt water.
“What do mean Troy? Who is dead? What happened?” I whispered grinding my teeth at the sounds of my mother stirring in bed.
“Debbie. She died. Debbie this girl down…other end of street…my car wrecked…girl is dead. Her sister is at the hospital and Debbie ya know she was decapitated. Car flipped you see. It wasn’t my fault…broke the axle…new car…car’s fault…she is dead.” Troy’s voice was almost a lullaby of suffering. I sank into the wicker chair and gulped holding my breath. The racing in my mind swirled with disbelief. The vision of him driving these two girls around town in his new car leading to one of their deaths came clear to my mind as a TV screen in an airport. The feeling in his chest choking for salvation cried to me to hurry. I could feel his fist in my hand raging with guilt and suffering as I let go of the phone. A sense of deep overwhelming compassion for him surged up from my belly into my heart.
I came back to the phone to his groaning and moaning my name. It was 7:15 AM. I had time to make it to his house before school if I took my bike. I had time to cradle him in my arms. I had time for love. His parents were out of town for the week and he had no one to be with him in this state. The urgency to comfort him became unbearable and I told him I would be right over as soon as I biked the three miles to his home. I asked firmly for him to hold on; wait for me. I would be there for him. I would hold him and let him cry. I told him he would be okay.
As I biked to his house all sorts of terror crept through me. The reality of this was unfeasible– there must be some mistake. How was I connected to this? What was my role in being a support for Troy after the dark dance we had done with each other? After all the angst and rejection could I really be there for him now when such a travesty has occurred in his life? I pedaled hard and breathless in the hot morning. I had no idea what I was walking into and it would take me years of soul wrenching to understand. Now how I tell it to you is more of an illustration then a verbatim moment for moment. When someone is molested it’s hard to tell how it happened. There is a basic denial ingrained in the one molested. So this part is a story to relate the intensity of what I experienced because my conscious self can not even begin to truly explain. It may be a compilation of several experiences with Troy. Even I can no longer tell. The suffering comes across in colors and images not in moments so I will tell this the best I can to illustrate my experience. But do not take it as word for moment. Take it as a dream. That’s what I told myself for the year and half that I was with Troy. It was just a bad dream.
When I got there the door was open and the screen door invited me in. He sat on the sofa with a huge baking bowl full of cereal that he mechanically ate and did not notice my entrance in the least. I had been to his house once before and had only met his parents for a moment then. I was seeing clearly into the estranged nature of his world. Everything in the house radiated Catholicism. There were porcelain hands in prayer and a gold crucified Jesus hung on the wall with star bursts behind it. A huge white Bible sat on the coffee table and a little glass manger set on the stereo system. Religion was a big part of his family and Troy saw religion as the evil against everything he stood for and believed in. It was a mock display of faith through objects and it disgusted him to the core. He knew things about the darkness and could bring light to them but he lived in a world muddled with anguish and confusion. His vendetta with the world led him to violence. He used anger and hatred for this tick tack commercial world as a tool to teach others that there is more beyond this realm of life and death, maybe even more than we are able to believe or want to. Yet he did believe in heaven and hell and that we go to one or the other based on our actions in life. Yet now after this accident, he knew he was going to hell. He was already in it.
He had blood all over his clothing. It was dried maroon on his white shirt and black on his jeans. I cringed at the filth that he lounged in. He didn’t acknowledge my presence at all. I sat next to him and put my hand on his knee. The next thing I knew the bowl of cereal was flying through the air and he grabbed my wrist and pulled me full force onto the floor. I was then facing him on my knees. He had no whites in his eyes. Not one bit of white in his eyes and no irises either. He was squeezing my wrist so hard that my whitened fingers went straight out and I couldn’t bend them. He held me in this stance for about five minutes. I didn’t try to speak or get him to sit down, because everything that I had been taught as a Jehovah’s Witness was coming true.
He was in a state of such complete darkness. When people are crazy, suffering, and insane they don’t have an awareness of what is acceptable on the reality plane. Just my touching him put him into such a state of suffering reminding him that he was stuck in this body and that he was trapped in the reality of his horror. This was not a bad dream. He was not going to wake up from this tragedy. He held me like that forever and then he let go sat down and started eating cereal off of his clothing.
My body went liquid cold. I didn’t move even though I had been unleashed. The screen door was ten feet from me. I didn’t think I could make it out of the house and to my bike. He had no whites in his eyes. I didn’t move. I didn’t know what he was capable of. I didn’t want to find out.
Suddenly he put his hands into his thick black hair and pulled out locks of curls. He cried and screamed. He full force punched himself into both eyes four or five times. I was still frozen on the floor in front of him less than a foot away. He might do anything if I move. Just my touch freaked him out. So I sat where I was. He began to cry and cry like baby torn from its mother.
The air was thick with the smell of blood and milk congealing on the carpet. I patiently listened to the click of the clock just above Jesus. I stared at the Christ’s limp golden body on the cross and meditated on his example of compassion and love. Troy needed me to reach into my heart and be present in my deepest compassion and forgiveness of his lack of self-control. Who else was here to hold and comfort him? No one. I was beckoned. I was called to come to him at his time of need. Perhaps I was delusional with a Mother Theresa grandeur but I felt it. I felt love for Troy even in the chaos. I felt compassion from the roots of my soul. I felt forgiveness in the moment and let go of all the hurt and anger between us over idle things like virginity. There was no comparison between his pain and my Jehovah’s Witness “holier than thou” attitude. I humbled myself to him and offered up my love as a sacrifice.
I did all this in silence watching that Jesus on the wall. Trying to gather together all of my energy and thoughts toward Troy’s healing and light. His form sitting blankly before me was a consuming funnel storm of darkness. I hallucinated Jesus floating above Troy’s head and an angel’s song sifted through the static, empowering me to be in the eye of the storm with Christ.
Troy came back to himself and he talked to me like a child lost at sea. “I love you so much. I just want you to hold me. ”
So I tenderly hooked him into an embrace. I cooed his whimpers and motherly patted him not wanting to touch him too much and make him angry. He was a baby needing nurturing from me like my sister or my brothers when they were sad and suffering. I was the only one who made it all right for him. The only one who was there in it with him and he trusted me. I was almost euphoric with fear and adoration for this poor soul that needed me so much. I felt the channels of true compassion pulsing effortlessly from my arms and he snuggled up to my gentle comfort.
After a half-hour of sobs and screams he had dehydrated himself and he asked if I would get him a glass of water, then a soda, and no-a coffee. He giggled at his own confusion. So I moved and even though he asked me to the movement freaked him out.
He grabbed me. I went totally limp. I had no resistance physically. I was like — whatever you are going to do just do it. I was just trusting that Jehovah had put me into this situation. I kept thinking that he is the evil that I was taught about all of my life. He was the one guy outside of the religion that I talked with. The one guy I shouldn’t have kissed. He’s everything I had been warned about. All this stuff I had mocked. Yet somehow he was also my brother, a confused suffering human that I had compassion for, and my friend.
We found ourselves in the bedroom and I was on my back on the waterbed with it waving hard.
Then he said, “Oh my god I am so sorry. I am so sorry.” This wave came through him clearing his eyes and then he remembered himself. He went into these, “What am I doing?” waves and then he expressed how much he wanted to be with me.
There were wall to wall posters in his room of demons and skeletons wielding swords and machine guns. Above the bed were Iron Maiden posters with skeletons rising from coffins in anger. A fake skull sat on the bed table with a black candle burning in it. An inverted black cross hung on the wall.
It was nine in the morning and already the heat of the sun had filled the space with a thick humidity that left me balmy and damp in my fear. The room steeped with his love of darkness. He was the epitome of all I had been warned about. He petted my face and he told me how much he cared and loved me.
“I just want you to know Lily. I just want you to know what is going on in my heart and my head. I want you to feel the darkness inside of me. I want you to be able to see in the dark.” He emphasized his spitting words by squeezing my head in his hands. He started kissing on my neck pressing his teeth hard through his lips into my choking throat as I tried to roll away from his embrace.
“No Troy!” I started squirming under his pressure not wanting to freak him out anymore than necessary to get him off of me. He persisted his kisses as I turned my face from side to side avoiding them until he pulled on the back of my head to straighten my face before his and he shoved his tongue deeply into my mouth. “No Troy.” I mumbled as his hands found their way up my shirt where he clawed at my breasts like a beast. “We can’t do this! No.” At this time I was kind of resisting in this uncomfortable girlfriend way but the goose bumps on my skin alerted me to my deepest fear. He would have me, I thought, and there was nothing I could do.
This was my virginity. This was a virgin raping me. I had no resistance in me after that. I thought, “It is done. There is nothing I can do now.” I closed my eyes and saw the gold Jesus floating over the starburst and the black funnel storm that I half remembered from the living room what seemed hours away now. I focused on the torture stake and muttered to my mind “He died for love. He died for love. He died for love…”
My mind softly drifted into a state of denial so much so that I felt my hands rise from my wrists as if they were disconnecting. My mind was racing: “This boy is suffering so much. He is out of his mind. He can’t control his thought process. He can’t control his emotional swings. He can’t hold a conversation with me or differentiate when he was hurting me or loving me. He has no ground. He has no balance in any of it.”
Then it happened. I had this sense of compassion wash through me like an euphoric wave of light and release. Some kind of astral light cord to my belly broke wide open and my heart flooded with intense green heat. It was an emerald fire that was burning my flesh from the inside out. I was so overwhelmed with the sensations that I forgot about the rape. I had never experienced such empathy for another person in all of my life. It was so huge, it was so powerful that I left my body. My legs and hips shifted and separated from my flesh I felt them lifting even though Troy’s weight bore down on them. My arms rose out in front of me though I knew my wrists were still bound. The sensation of rising from the scene was so overwhelming that I relaxed against the hard presses of his pelvis. The feeling of being a universal mother overwhelmed me. Troy was a child who was angry and suffering and I was the angel to carry him through the pain. A flood of lavender light woven with pink graph enveloped me like skin. I was sweating heavily but there was a swiftness that breezed through me. A torch burned in my vagina that turned into liquid light swirling in orange-red flames. A stiff pull yanked from my hips up through my spine and into my mind. White lightening burst from my pelvis to my crown. My back arched in the electricity. Troy paused a moment and looked frightened by my convulsions. A purple-silver shimmer went across my vision and my body softened in the pain. I was disembodied. I was floating.
My fleshly body was a one-piece suit that I shimmied out of and into my real spirit skin. There was no real moment of crossing over but just a sigh of relief to be free from the suffering. I was free from the pain. I was free from the rape.
My mind rationalized the feelings. I had a sense of compassion for Troy because he could not control himself enough to not hurt another person. I had no connection with another man outside of my family. This boy had spent nights knocking on my window all night long, who just wanted to spend a little time with me was raping me, tearing my clothes off of me, fucking me in my own blood. He “knew not what he was doing.” He was suffering so much that he was not in control. He had surrendered his power up for relief and in his spirit’s absence a demon stepped in and led his body like a beast. The true Troy wasn’t even there in that moment. The true Troy was asleep in a bad nightmare. He had let his body be taken on by a more powerful energy while his reasoning self retreated.
I found myself floating over the scene. The waterbed was rippling in hard waves against the headboard. There were waves of blood oozing all over the sheets. It was a spectacle that made me look away and when I did I realized that I was looking down to the scene and not up from it. He still had his clothes on. His stone washed jeans were down, mine were around my ankles and my shirt was over my face. I was lying there not moving. My body was just absorbing the energy like a rubber mat under lightning.
I was floating like I was full of helium and I couldn’t get down. I felt the ceiling physically pressing down on my back as my body pressed up. I wondered if there was no ceiling would I float away? I was in such a state of awe and amazement at this new condition that I had no fear of it. It seemed natural and calm. It felt like I was remembering something comforting and not being shocked into some new belief system. Everything I believed about the spirit of mankind was now in question but it wasn’t so serious as that. I was remembering how the JW’s told me that my body is my soul. They teach that when I die I do not go to heaven or hell but am buried and rot in the earth. How could this be so when here I am alive and I am removed from my body witnessing my own rape? As my mind flooded with thoughts I felt my form gradually lower to the floor where I then sat next to the bed in a chair just a foot away from my body.
Troy could not see this other form in the chair. He hadn’t noticed that my eyes were wide and blinking in my face when the shirt slipped forward, yet my breath had slowed to nearly nothing.
I began to process what was happening to my astral self and my physical self. Troy was trying to teach me. He said he just wanted me to “know how to “see” in the dark. Here I was learning rapidly about my spirit in a way that had never even occurred to me to be a reality. The Jehovah’s Witnesses would never believe me if I told them I had this “out of body” experience because in the religion it is not a possibility. They teach that an immortal non-physical body is a lie made up to lead you a way from “the truth.” Now I was realizing I had been lied to by the religion and that there was much more to discover about myself than I had ever dreamed. And discover I would.
“Holy shit. What the hell is this? I am out of my body.” I said out loud and then clamped my hand over my mouth wondering if Troy could hear me. His head jerked at my voice and for a second he looked over at the chair but shook his head and looked back at my body’s face. I was so amazed by this. He could not see me but he could hear my voice.
There was a knock at the screen door and someone entered the house. Troy was finished. He jumped up and scrambled around for clean clothes. He put the pile of bloodied ones in the corner and wrapped my body up in the bloody sheets and threw a blanket over my face.
We heard a man’s voice from the living room. “What the hell is this shit?” the voice referred to cereal and blood mess. “Tracy!? Troy?!” the voice yelled. It was Troy’s sister’s boyfriend Freddy.
“In here Freddy!” Troy yelled back. “Just a minute!”
Troy went into the bathroom and washed up. I could hear him mumbling to himself about “Jesus forgive me…Mary Mother of God…Our Father full of grace…Holy fucking Christ…” His prayers were droned out by the water rushing down the drain with my blood and the dead girl’s blood. He cloaked his shock and shame in piety as if now they meant something to him. He came back to my body and gently kissed my forehead.
He said, “I am going to the mall.” He went out of the room and locked the dead bolt on his bed room door quickly behind him. He told Freddy he was ready to go and in less than a minute the house fell silent.
I had no concept of how much time had passed. It felt like time had been bent and stretched in ways I didn’t think possible. All the energy passing through me felt like slow motion triggers that went off over hours and hours but it was only 10:30 A.M. I stayed out of my body for a while after he left. I was completely awake completely aware. I could taste my physical tears on my astral face. I could feel no pain that the body had suffered only the pain of my spirit. Confused and afraid of this new world I had just unwillingly entered, I watched myself cry. My body rolled into fetal position and wept aching for relief. I had compassion for this girl who lay there painted with horror and blood grasping between her legs to stop the pain only to find more handfuls of blood that she used to wipe away the sobs. She was drowning in suffering and everything she reached out for and everything that surrounded her held her head under the surface with no mercy. The ghouls on the posters glared at her with hatred. It was as if she had just been ritually initiated and left to survive the experience with no support in her weakest hour. I watched myself –distantly letting the suffering happen. The purification of my spirit through suffering. I held my heart in my hand and stood off from my body as a soft voice entered my mind supporting my spirit and holding me back from re-entry.
This voice was the same motherly woman’s voice that would sing to me the lullabies of the other worlds when I was a child. I always knew I had a guardian angel and her name is Asuna. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that you have a guardian angel. They believe that angels only come to punish you and then if an angel comes to punish you than it is really a demon and you are demonized and you are having contact with a demon. The voice lulled me into remembering her and how we had known each other for all of my life. My body fell asleep in the remembering.
I had this light being with me, and I was able to see her and talk with her audibly. I knew that if I told anyone about her I would be labeled as demonized so she became more like my “secret imaginary friend.” I had to pretend. “Pretend” is just a word adults apply to a child’s “reality.” Most children have an imaginary friend but it is only called that because the parents don’t like to think that there is a being in the room that they can’t see. They can’t trust it. They would rather think that their child has a sweet imagination than believe in the reality of the being. Their fear subsided by lying to themselves and their children.
This was happening regularly when I was little. I learned very quickly not to talk about it because I would be beaten if I spoke for talking with demonic spirits. It became like having a secret pal telling me don’t turn left– turn right, and then all of the sudden something would happen where I would have been hurt if I hadn’t listened. Or I would just all of a sudden know something that wasn’t told to me or I wasn’t supposed to find out about my family. It was like an intuitive message that I would receive from my “imaginary friend.” Parents in the religion who have a child who has a higher connection with spirit believe it is not really spirituality but it is psychology and it needs to be “treated” right away. Once the child is past a certain age that imagination if still healthy and active is then seen as a psychological illness rather than what it is: a spiritual gift.
The amount of parents alienating themselves and their children from other parents, because their child hears voices, is ridiculous, especially in cult religions that are a spin-off of Christianity. No one wants the religion to know that their child is “demonized” by voices or visions so to silence the child they violently beat them. The real fear the parents experience is the validation of their own astral, spiritual, or ghostly experiences by their children who see and hear even more clearly. Realizing the real truth triggers a religious program and that program is discipline the children and then show repentance.
When I was about nine years old this being’s energy completely changed on me. It wasn’t like an imaginary friend anymore. It stopped being like an astral person projecting him or herself anymore and it wasn’t like a human in a projection state. It was like a ghost. It completely changed. I didn’t know why and when it happened it really scared me. An astral projected being is more like feeling my mother is thinking about me or when I feel like my sister is in trouble. It is more like an intuitive heart-full feeling that makes me feel like I have to make a call right now and get connected with that living person. You know that the person is in existence whether they are in your presence or not you just know that they are in a real and functioning world and that you can get connected to them. But with a ghost feeling it is more of an “other” state. The air in the room changes, like it gets cold abruptly, the hair on my neck stands up, and it effects me physiologically when it is a dead person’s spirit that is present.
A ghost is someone who died and they have not yet left the earth realm for the light. They linger among humans trying to understand that they are dead and they feel like they have unfinished business here and can not let go until they complete some task. Ghosts also are tied to the humans they knew in life. Humans can choose to let them go or they can bind them to earth and their grief makes the ghost suffer. They are not able to go until there is a release either by them or by those who knew them. It is an in-between state that requires intense processing about the events that happened in life and a seeking for understanding for the living and the dead. It was like Asuna had died and became a ghost. I didn’t know any one who had died at that time. But I did go through a kind of death experience in myself because my parents were getting divorced. I was losing my father to the world and he was leaving my daily life. I had this grief about my father in me and my older siblings had all already turned eighteen and moved out. So it was just Jeud and I living with our mother who was a devout Jehovah’s Witness who didn’t believe in anything that either of us were experiencing.
From the fear of condemnation by my religion I was feeling, I began to not want to have communication with the spirit. Because of the fear, I voiced to my mother that there was a ghost in the house and that I was hearing voices. My mother began to retaliate and silence me. She would scream at me holding out the Bible as if it was a cleanse-all and I was purified by her cursing me. I was in double thought. Asuna was once a comforting energy. I felt like at one time she came to me and said “it is still me, yet I am a different being now.” I didn’t have an understanding of any of it. In every level of spirituality I was raised in there was absolutely no spirit in it. There were no ghosts, spirits, undead, vampires, banshees, nothing. Anything that you experienced on a spiritual realm that was not on a human level was evil period. If you were thinking about it, talking about it, connected to it, you were evil period, and you were excommunicated from your religion, community, and family. So I resided in this space of do I talk about it because I don’t understand it and I want to understand it and resolve it or do I silence and fear it?
Now the voice of Asuna was humming in my head. I felt her gentle warm arms surrounding me and cradling me like a child. I felt soft like I was rocking in a hammock under a large maple tree in the cool of an overcast day. I heard her singing a Celtic song in the distance and looked up from the hammock out at a field of grazing sheep. She was standing far off in a heavy dark wool dress picking flowers and still watching over me. She had taken me to another time and place. Everything was golden glazed and unreal. The clouds were glistening against a lavender sky. I closed my eyes cozy in the scene. Content with my rest I opened them again.
Then I realized I was covered in blood.
I looked up into the poster of the empty eye sockets of a skeleton looking down at me. It was rising from a coffin and holding a chainsaw with a look of vengeance and rage. Somehow I knew I was being paid back for something I had done somewhere in time even though at that age I didn’t know anything about karma. Reincarnation was not a possibility in my world. Yet I knew I had just paid a debt and the link between Troy and I had been loosened. I also knew this was just the beginning of a slow torturous duty to Spirit that would last a year and six months before I could dig my way out of the consciousness and beg God for forgiveness.
There was a reintegration process when I went back into my body that affected my memory for a little while. I felt heavy in my body as if it was a lead apron laying on me for a x-ray. I moved my sore wrists slowly lifting myself upright and looked around the room. I was a mess. Hot streaks of tears were still burning down my face and I was dehydrated. I vainly wrapped myself up in the sheet and wiped down my legs with a T-shirt. I walked hunched over to the door with my jeans still around my ankles. I wrestled the knob with limp fists and realized I was stuck in the room. I pulled up my jeans and took a glass of water from the desk to rinse my face into the sheet. Rings of dried blood crusted the creases in my neck and my hands were colored a deep brown. I sat on the edge of the bed for a moment looking above the window to see a small crucifix and a picture of Mary pointing to her sacred heart.
“Yes.” I said to myself and then opened the blinds to the full noon glare of the day and pushed open the window. I crawled through and went to the swimming pool where I lent forward and dunked my head into the water to rinse and cool down. I looked down into the bottom of the pool to the tiled lobsters on the floor. I watched my reflection wave in the water and then smacked the surface with anger. The eight-foot wooden fence that surrounded the pool was locked so I hiked myself up and over the spiked points and dropped down the other side. It was a small struggle full of pain but when I landed on the other side I felt like I was half way home. I shuffled over to my bike and began to walk it out of the neighborhood and over to the main road.
At first I couldn’t sit on the bike seat because of the pain. I walked sternly for about ten minutes then the tears returned. I vomited in a ditch in front of an empty lot where a housing development was going to be built, and sat there by the scummy water sobbing in the sun. The wind blew through the road and I heard the soft singing of Asuna again. I fantasized that I was a Druid Priestess and that this was a magical dream and that I was being tested. I visualized a cloaked figure standing across the road. The figure held a staff out before it that had a razor sharp blade cut into a crescent moon shape at the very top. This vision emanated energy towards me that empowered me to stand up and mount my bicycle. I pedaled madly the remainder of the three miles home in 98-degree weather. I saw the pain as my initiation into something bigger than myself. My mind argued with my heart trying to discipline me from seeing this spirit and thinking such madness about being a priestess. But my heart silenced the chatter in my head by insisting that I NEED to BELIEVE this right now or I will die. I will just fall over and drown in the ditches. My mind quieted and the figure hovered in my vision always just a few feet ahead of my bike tire.
I was in so much pain when I got home. I was in emotional psychological and physical torment. There was blood all over me. My mom was not home and I was praising Jesus for it because it would have been a million times worse for me if she had been home and she saw me like that. I went straight to the shower. I was on a cover-up mission to hide this atrocity. I rhythmically bathed in sharp deep strokes scratching at my skin with a loofa until it rose red in the soap. I was crusty with blood and I scoured the patches on my flesh. I used soap all over my body several times until it burned my eyes and I cried myself into child’s pose with my forehead on the drain of the bathtub and my knees bent underneath me. I reached up with one hand and turned the shower to full hot and I scalded my back for an hour and a half. I thought I had sinned. I thought I had brought all of this on myself. It was all my fault because I had given him that first kiss. I needed purification. I needed to suffer like Hester Prine in The Scarlet Letter. I saw myself as a sick fornicating whore. I heard the voices of judgment screaming in my mind and I banged my head into the drain moaning. The voices became physical punches and I wrestled them face down as if the rape was happening again in that moment until I tossed myself around in the tub and passed out in the hot water that rained down on me.
This time I went into a deep sleep that left me feeling drugged and clouded. Thoughts about the religion woke me to the burns on my body. It was already 2P.M. I had an hour before my mother would be home.
According to the JW’s this was my fault and I already knew they would see it as such so I said nothing at first. I felt like my shame was between me and God and not the men who claimed power over me. Yet I knew that everything that they had taught me about straying from their path had been filled to the ‘T’ with the exception that I had left my body and out of body experiences do not happen according to the religion.
I didn’t tell anyone. I saw the accident on the news. The girl who had died was named Debbie. I waited. My mom was watching the news with me and she knew it was the boy who had called the night before. I said nothing then but as my body remained in pain for a week I realized that I might have to see a doctor. My yoni bled every day since the rape and I feared what may come of it. I finally went to her and said that I had been raped. She lost her mind. She called me a whore, a slut, and a tease.
“If he raped you- you deserve it you little tramp. You flash your little cunt around to all the boys. I should have known that you were doing this behind my back. Don’t you know what happens to little whores like you? They get pregnant and end up on the streets doing drugs. Are you doing that shit too? Are you doing drugs like your sister?” She screamed at me for an hour or so and I crumbled in her words disassociating myself from the violence in her mouth and left my body again. My mother too was programmed into believing that her dogma was more important than her daughter’s suffering. The religion had taken such a deep hold on her mind that she could not let her love and compassion rise past her condemnation, fear, and shame.
I was so confused by mother’s lack of compassion for her children and how it had taken all the anguish in the world to lift up my voice and admit what had happened. I felt the suffering of the earth’s core with all the madness of the world crawling around on it. I felt the sadness of children dying in the Middle East, of animals being slaughtered for their meat by corporate farms, of trees being cut in the rain forest. I felt all the pain of death and suffering of the human race and universal soul. My mother hated me for having been raped. My mother hated me for hearing voices and seeing angels. My mother hated me for being different. The one person who’s role is to nurture and care for me. The one person designed by God to be my earthly human guide through the world spit on me with disgust. I retreated so deeply into my mind that I was no longer a lighthearted teen-age girl in love with her vanity and self-discovery of idle happenings and teeny-bopper joys. I became a woman as old as time and as deep as hell.
I felt my wings ache in my back for stretching out of my fleshly shoulders. I felt all the pain of silence encroaching my throat. I felt the chains of eternity grounding me in the punishment of this earthly body. I knew my soul infinite and my humiliation was the food for my rebellion.
I began to look at the world with new eyes. I began to see the generator of the machine. I began to peer clearly into the faces of adults and see how their minds were like sleeping embryos in eggshells. There was something anima-tronic about them like the talking mannequins at Disney World. They were unconscious and now I knew something that their age had not yet earned them. I knew how to see in the dark.
I could identify more clearly how adults talked over my head as if I was not listening. Listen I did intently to their every word and their hypocrisy rose like sharp broken blades of glass that cut the unconscious energy between them and others who mindlessly wielded energy of guilt and shame, manipulation, and power struggles. I saw the game. I followed their thoughts to their source. I saw the motivations of greed, selfishness, hatred, resentment, and envy blatantly echo in their voices as astral entities that appeared as little green demons on their tongues.
Jesus said, “Be like children.” He didn’t say,” Be childish.” This childish behavior is what I was witnessing in them. I witnessed adults praying to God that they would do anything he says as long as they get their way. Hypocrisy became repugnant and filthy in my eyes. I visualized two mouths speaking from one and could hear the thoughts of contradiction from the words of their mouths. I steered clear from this two-faced, back- stabbing dance and those who chose to be in it. Yet I was in the thick of it. I was a Jehovah’s Witness.
After a few days of ridicule from my mother and threats from my brother –in-law to go kill Troy I attended a JW meeting. I was asked at the end of the two-hour session to step into a small back room of the building where three elders sat at the end of a long conference table. They had yellow legal pads with questions written out on them to ask me about the incident. The first question was: Did you have oral sex and did you enjoy it? I looked to my mother who sat their frozen and cold with her hands clamped together in her lap and her eyes staring down at the tabletop.
“Mom?” I said.
“Answer their questions Lily.” She said with tight lips.
I was shocked by the question and remained silent. My mind was muddled with pain, horror, confusion, suffering, and hot with anger. The thick silence was hard and cold. The head elder Brockelhurst stared at me through his square coke bottle glasses and with his Texas drawl said, “How many times have you performed oral sex with this worldly boy Lily?” “Worldly” was the word they used to refer to anyone who was not in the JW’s and therefore in service to Satan. I looked to my mom again and said nothing. I felt the hot poker in-between my thighs I saw the blood on the sheets I saw the blackness of Troy’s eyes and I looked at this as another test of my spirit.
Brockelhurst whispered to Sherman and then Warfield. The three of them nodded together and then Brockelhurst spoke, “Lily do you know that sex outside of wedlock leads to death? And did you know that Jehovah our God will not hesitate to put you to death for your sins? And do you feel that just because you are silent in this room that Jehovah can not read your thoughts and that he has not already witnessed your loose conduct and immoral acts to one in service to Satan?”
Brockelhurst leant forward on the table and spoke in a monotonous voice,” Lily you must answer these questions. You are a baptized Jehovah’s Witness and you must follow our process.”
“I was raped!” I screamed.
Brockelhurst adjusted his suit coat and sat down. “If you want to deny that you are a loose and immoral whore that is your choice. But unless you repent and admit your sin you will be disfellowshipped and none of your friends, family, or peers will speak with you again. Now do you want that Lily?” I said nothing. “No I don’t think you want that do you?”
As he spoke in his monotone I felt the viper choking my throat and my silence was then documented as a confession and repentance. I was to be put on “private reproof” which meant I had seen the elders for my sin, confessed, repented, and then disciplined by not being allowed to go in the door to door ministry, comment at meetings, see my friends, or attend social gatherings, until I was later seen as no longer “unclean” due to my submission and compliance and humility based on their discretion. So after the rape happened, my mother verbally abused me, the religion humiliated and manipulated me, I was not able to call Vena or speak with her about the events or I would then be considered “rebellious and wanton” and I would be disfellowshipped and cut off entirely for disobeying the elders counsel. I was fourteen years old and felt not unlike Artemsia being persecuted by a tyrannical Christian court for being a female artist in love with a man outside of marriage.
It is a cruel and inhuman thing to keep a girl who has been raped from the support of her closest and best friend. Vena needed to know about these new discoveries. Vena needed to know that I had lost my virginity to rape and that the elders were being bizarrely cruel and cold. Vena needed to know that I had left my body and saw my guardian angel. Vena was the one island in the madness I most needed to swim to for consolation and healing.
Do you remember the excitement and thrill of being on the phone for hours talking about every little thing that happened to you at school with your best friend? How every thing was an amazing realization and even the smallest story or event could be perceived as teen-age enlightenment? Things from discoveries about the opposite sex to the latest drama at school or your family were needed to be discussed and processed into the wee hours of the night on the telephone. Now that I had the biggest news that I could possibly have ever conceived I had to sit silently in my house without the phone, without Vena, without any one except my anger, my brother Jeud and my mom, who treated me bitterly.
So in this silence I sat and meditated again and again on the event. I was trying to understand what was going on when I left my body and had this ever happened to me before and could I control it in the future. Would it happen again? I folded my legs into the yoga position full lotus. I didn’t know any Yoga names even though I had intuitively practiced it since I was six years old. I closed my eyes and focused on my eye brows. I didn’t really know what I was trying to do. I was copying what Jeud did. I was mimicking Luke Skywalker.
The AWAKE! Magazine printed by the JW’s once had a cover article saying that it was a very bad thing to sit and meditate because one would then be inviting Satan into their body. Although I had a slight fear that I was dabbling in devil’s play I felt like I had better explore this to understand the vision of the vipers emanating from Brockelhurst’s mouth. He had said that I was demonized and now I was willing to ask Satan himself if this was true and why. So I sat for hours. There was no teaching in the religion about meditation and I had no access to other religious publications except at the school library, which only had western religion books. I knew things about many Christian religions because the Jehovah’s Witnesses try to teach other Christian religions that their religion is bad and they should convert to JWs. They use real historical facts about the Catholic Church to convince people that every level of Christendom is corrupt and that true Christians follow Jehovah and not Jesus and the false churches. I noticed that in every Christian religion I was taught about none of them used meditation as a form of prayer or reflection. I was puzzled between the conflicting messages about what prayer is and what meditation is I felt like there was no winning in anyone’s teachings. No matter what, I was “evil” according to the JWs so I surrendered to the label outwardly and inwardly. I meditated in prayer to Jehovah even if meditating was a sin.
I had done this earlier in my life to hide in my mind from the shouting in my home. I had even made a little sign that said “think” and hung it over a stool in my room where I would deliberately sit and think for long spans of time. Now I had no idea what I would be thinking of or what I was trying to gain from meditating but it was time for me to think. I closed my eyes and hummed to myself a rhythm that came naturally to mind. I sat on the hard tarazo floor with candles in front of me. I stared into the blue petal of the flames and became mesmerized by the lightness of my mind and thoughts. I could see. I could see more than the dance of the fire. I could see little windows into other worlds and times. I could remember how I had sat by great hearths in castles of Ireland and stirring a large cauldron on the shores of Gaul. I could hear my own voice speaking in different languages from other lives. I had no concept of reincarnation and I did not even think that what I was seeing was past lives but more of just other parts of myself living out a dream in another time.
My mother was a very controlling woman who often took the telephone with her to work so she “didn’t have to worry about me calling boys.” Which I didn’t do anyway. She also limited my use of the television and put me on restriction to my bedroom. I read for hours on end many metaphysical, transcendental, and existential novels that a dear teacher, Mrs. Norse, supplied me in my eighth grade English honors class. But when I was tired of filling my mind with another’s thoughts I got lost in my own and drifted into the other realms. A Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan taught me more ideas about of out of body travel. Different songs led me into the nether realms. “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel whispered secrets of the universal dharma to me.
I wandered in this dreamscape to the edge of dawn. A man came to me as if he materialized from the trees and water of the lake. He came to me with such tender love and wrapped his strong arms about me. I was cradled in protection; submersed in love. This vision filled me with ecstatic joy. My head tingled, my arms grew warm and my heart beat rapidly.
I didn’t see the man’s face or recognize him from my life. I knew that there was no way that this man was Troy. I knew it like I know the difference between hot and cold. The feeling this man gave me was one of utter and complete serenity. He was like a soft sunshine day in the forest with red poppies in full bloom spread wide for the business of bees. He was the sweet delight comfort of cool sheets on a hot night, the taste of chocolate under the tongue, and the return of a long lost friend.
He was my true love.
Even though he was so despondent I still went to all of my teachers and my guidance counselor and told them that he had raped me. It was like talking to cartoon characters on the TV screen. All of these people save one were numb to every word I said. One of them didn’t even look up from her desk to acknowledge my speaking. “Rape” could be screamed in their ear and they would turn an eye away from it. Two teachers accused me of slandering Troy and my band teacher called me a “tease” that had been leading Troy “on” all year. No one listened except
She called my mother and my mother was greatly disturbed that I spoke about my “loose conduct” with a “worldly” teacher. However, my mother told Mrs. Norse that I had indeed been seeing that boy and that he was very dangerous. This was enough for Mrs. Norse to demand that the dean keep us separate and to protect me. He didn’t.
After a week or so of avoiding Troy at lunch and in the hallways he came up to my locker and leant on the other side of the door and began to bang his head into the door. I shut it away from his head and he lunged forward and hugged me. I felt my spine creep coolant up my back and I heaved him off of me.
“Don’t touch me pig.” I said.
“Ooh saucy little slut are we?” He smiled wickedly.
I flicked him off as I walked in front of him to band class. My teacher had designated me the secretary of sheet music for the band. Everyday I went into the little room just two rooms made of cinder block away from the teacher’s office. I would close the door to drain out the random instruments practicing noisly. I would shout at them to keep it down and they could not hear me over the various squeals and squeaks of junior high band.
Troy came into the room and locked the door. He stood between the door and me and unzipped his pants. I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t be heard and he wasn’t going to let me go. At night he would unlock my bedroom door that led to outside and crawl into my bed. He always walked away from both places without a word. There was no goodbye, no explanation, nothing.
I dwelt in a state of disembodied fear for a year and a half. All he had to do was touch me and I fled my body like birds flying away from a dog on the beach. My skin would peel away like a white iris popping open to the June sun. I shimmed right out of my human space suit and into the twilight misty mountains of my mind looking for my true love. I convinced myself that the rapes weren’t happening to Lily the person, just my body. I disassociated from the thought process and submitted to the fear. I became robotic and void of my own personality and my energy was drained continually. I couldn’t cry anymore. I couldn’t remember what world I was existing in or which one was the dream.
In the mornings when the dawn came I would be dreaming of my true love and for a split second he would reach me and wrap his arms about me and then look me in the face. Every time I opened my eyes and found myself in bed with the yellow slices of the sun coming through the horizontal blinds and my arms outstretched grasping at the rays of light.
I prayed out loud begging for my true love to come to me again. To find me.
Chapter 3 First SightSpring 1989 Lakeland, Florida Circuit Convention Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses
The Jehovah’s Witnesses hold Conventions several times a year. There are two kinds of JW conventions. One is of the circuit, which is decided by which county you live in. The other, District Conventions, is decided by the regions of the state. The District conventions usually have about six thousand to sixteen thousand JWs in attendance. The circuit conventions range from six hundred to three thousand in attendance. Jehovah’s Witnesses pride themselves on the overall decorum of such an event. There is no violence, no profanity, no theft, total cooperation and no drugs.
It is a common thing to find the teenagers roaming the hallways in little clans. They self-classify and break up into the rich, the poor, the white, the black, etc. and in the circuit that I lived in, there was “the cool guys.” These cool guys/girls were anyone who dressed a wee bit alternative with wing tipped shoes, ties with Bugs Bunny on them, bright dresses, high fashion, buttons with little comments on their brief cases or book bags, a small dot on a boys ear showing that he had taken his earring out, or glitter shoe laces. There were any number of signs that you led an alternative life outside of the JWs genre, yet unless you led that life you didn’t recognize those signs.
Vena and I could spot them in a sea of three thousand faces and would quickly make our way through the crowd to connect with the others like us. We would group together and trade tapes of the coolest new underground, grunge, hard core, Goth, or alternative music. Vena and I sought these others like water in a desert of culture-less homogenized Borgs. We needed to think and be different and feel comfortable in our uniqueness. We all knew that we were freaks and rejects of our Christian background. We all knew that there was something more from life and we weren’t just seeking each other we were seeking more from our world. It was as if these connections were our life raft of information to the outside. We would share movies and books that showed us more about creativity, art, community, adventure, and extreme sports.
We shunned the prize pupils of the religion but never treated them unkindly even though we felt the curse of their present fluffiness. We didn’t want to live in the shallow subculture of Bible studies and potlucks. We wanted to sneak out at night and discover the underground that held more depth and mystery than the “truth” written in boldface print and published with drawings done by untalented ninth graders. There was something out there in the dark and we craved discovery.
We communicated about the hypocrisy of the religion. It was safe to talk with each other about what the elders were doing or about the ridiculousness of ‘field service.’ We were the revolutionaries. We were the ones stepping ahead of the norm if not stepping right in it.
Vena and I got lost at conventions and sat with each other doing our nails during the sermons. We were able to dine with each other and stroll the parking lot to get away from the speeches about how if you play music backwards it says, “worship Satan.” We giggled at all the lower consciousness around us and reminisced a past life that we imagined we had in Victorian England. Vena is my best friend incarnate. She is the starflower that was picked from a vast sea of radiant souls to come and guide and share with me the discoveries of youth.
She moved to Palm Bay thirty minutes away and our parents still accommodated our friendship. We were in ballet together until eight years old and when our mothers pulled us from class we begged to continue the path of ballerina all the way to Julliard but they wouldn’t have it and still we lament the loss of our dancing. Vena is the dear heart I reached to tell any new inspiration or secret fantasy.
Now at fifteen I was still being raped and she had no idea because the elders said I could not tell her what had happened about the first time and I had not opened my mouth in vain about all of the following times to present. I would not let her suffer my suffering for I loved her so much that I stayed silent.
We were sitting in the convention center cafeteria eating our hoagies, Shasta Soda, and cheese Danish lunch when Vena lifted her head and exclaimed, “Oh my gawd! Look at him! Isn’t he beautiful?”
I looked up and around at all the people mindlessly munching as if at their trough, and saw no one. I looked over to where Vena was fixated and only saw a beam of sunshine refracted by the rain on the window it glared brightly and I squinted at it. “Who?” I said.
“Right there. Him.” She pointed. I told her not to point and looked again at the bright beam playing like rainbows through the glass.
“You’re tripping Vena. There isn’t anybody over there.” I said and looked down again at the flat ham and bologna hoagie smothered in mustard packets and cringed.
“Get a grip Lily. There is a God damn Adonis standing in the corner! Right there.” She pointed again.” He looks just like River Phoenix! We should tell him that!”
I shook my head and looked up again. This time I did see someone. I saw a young man about fifteen standing in a bright teal green silk blazer with white dress pants eating a chocolate ice-cream cone. He was nodding to a Puerto Rican boy who seemed to be philosophizing about the world. The two of them looked like “cool guys.” The one in teal looked over to Vena pointing and smiled.
My mind tripped backwards in reverse to a memory beyond a dark dusty door. A distinct memory of an earlier circuit convention. It was when I was twelve years old at the Lakeland Holiday Inn. I had been playing The Tree of Knowledge Bible Game with a group of Witnesses by the pool when the ever so popular chic designer hairdresser Leo Rather, a “brother” from the Palm Bay West congregation and also a friend of my family’s, introduced me to a boy named Michael Pollux.
Michael and I had been a team playing the game and a strange occurrence disturbed everyone at the table except him and I. We answered a question in perfect sync and these were our first words we said looking into each others eyes: Revelations 21: 4, “And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore for the former things have passed away.”
All of our comments began to synchronize. We answered questions exactly the same– simultaneously. When we turned to each other to say, “stop it” we spontaneously mimicked again. We spoke in sync no matter what we said. He was mirroring me and I him– mysteriously. It silenced everyone at the table and Michael and I began laughing and pointing at each other. I remembered I had gone home and written in my diary that I had met the man of my dreams and yet I had not thought of him since that night three years earlier.
Vena pinched my arm. “Ooooooowww! What was that for?” I asked rubbing my arm vigorously.
“He’s coming over! Who is he?” She started straightening her hair as I told her quickly that I knew him from long ago and that we had mirrored each other. She turned and looked at me hard and tugged my arm, ”Why didn’t you ever tell me this!” she shouted not realizing that he had reached us.
I didn’t look up at him yet. “Hello Michael. How is it going? Remember me? Lily? This is Vena and she wants you to know that you look like River Phoenix.” I poked at my hoagie and sipped my Shasta.
He started laughing. “Yeah you again. I remember you from the hotel.” And just the way he said it made me start laughing. Then he starts laughing and I am pointing at him laughing and he’s pointing at me laughing and then he says, “I will just walk away.”
All this time we had not yet made direct eye contact. He turned to go and then stopped. He straightened his spine upright as if a bolt of lightening had just flashed up it and turned to lock eyes with me. My mouth dropped open as I saw the beam of light piercing from his forehead and the rays surrounding his crown blinding me yet remaining visible. The air smelled sweet and my skull was heady and spinning. I heard his heart beat in my chest and felt his swallow in my throat. My skin shivered with a warm tingle and the music of an old Celt love song filled my mind. The blue-green-golden glowing was four feet all around him and it ebbed with his breath. I felt lost in time and traveled through starlit mists in moments. Everything was a remembered dream. Everything was forgotten in the same second. Past life personalities were washing over me like waves. There was a funnel of blue lasers between his eyes and mine. I could see the same pink graphing enveloping my skin pulsating with gold blood. A cylindrical white beam shot from the top of his head. My sensations were on full high and I could only surrender to the bliss of his eyes. I felt his astral arms reach forward and envelop me with ecstasy and I saw our lifetimes together passing through a Ring of Fire. I knew him, and there was no doubt in my body, mind, or spirit. I had just found the other half of my soul. All things fit together and I saw the great matrix of creation cycling, living, and dying in our breathing. The Yin had met the Yang. I saw the sped up slow motion of the earth evolving and I saw my death a thousand times ten thousand times–each time I was calling out to him. I felt my stomach fist into a tight ball and a vacuum sucked the light from me. This vacuum was his words.
“Leo Rather says you write poetry.” He said. The envelope spit me out and the bliss left me feeling sea sick and unsteady on Earth.
“Uh. Yes. Yeah I do write poetry.” I stuttered.
“Really. I do too and I would love to read yours.” He smiled with glistening green eyes that were as deep as I had sank.
“Okay.” I said still stunned and surprised yet willing and curious. He nodded and left me in my stupor. Vena stared at me. “What?” I said.
“I see you. I see how you looked at each other.” She said. “Spill it.” So I told her everything I knew about him, which was very little, only the one encounter playing the game.
After the next session of talks I approached Michael with my poetry. I handed it to him and said that he could pass it back when he was done.
“No, please stay while I read it.” He asked and sat and read all of the six or seven poems I had with me. While he read I examined his face. His mouth quivered gently over my words and I loved them. I looked at him as if he had been my husband for many years and had such a deep respect and appreciation for how tenderly his eyes scanned the poems with curiosity.
He finished reading the poems and folded the papers in half smiling. He stared at me for a timeless moment and I was lost in him. His green eyes sweet pools on a summer day and his dark hair framing his god face. I couldn’t help but feel a bright pull in my heart. He loves poetry and writes it too. He is beautiful and my infatuation ran rampant.
“What do you think?” I asked.
“I am intrigued.” He smiled. I almost fainted from his beauty. The radiance was still all about him and white beams of light seemed to permeate his skin from within and sparkle iridescent and glittery. I did not consider myself different from Snow White at first sight of her Prince Charming with birds swarming her head. And I knew he felt the same. I just knew.
He handed me his poetry portfolio and told me to return it later because the session was starting. I took it with a red-faced grin and went back to where Vena was and sat down. The folder was black leather with a big puffy flamingo sticker on the front. Inside were several poems written all over the pages, in the corners, on the edges and in spirals. His words made my head spin with curiosity and wonder. I wasn’t even so much reading them but feeling them. I could feel his energy charged into the pages. I could feel his pondering, his wondering, his questioning, his longing. I could feel him. I am him. It was far beyond thinking alike. He posed thoughts I had not yet thought before in life. He saw things just a few facets off from me and this intrigued me to find the answers of questions I had pondered. We drew each other out.
Vena watched me read the poems and listened to me gasping. She whispered a warning that I was being eyed by Brother So and So for causing a disturbance with my coos and ohs. I didn’t care. I was in love.
After the last session I returned the folder to Michael and only had the opportunity to say goodbye and I hoped that I see him again soon. He said, “Yes real soon.” And I almost died from it. When he walked away Vena and I noticed that he was wearing red heart boxers under his white pants. We started giggling. He turned back and smiled,
“Finally someone gets it.” He laughed.
If cloud nine is heaven I was on cloud two million five hundred thousand and ninety nine. I was so ecstatic. Vena grasped my hand and we both started laughing with delight. Our lives had begun. One of us was now in love.
That Wednesday night Leo Rather phoned my mother. He asked her if she would be willing to host a potluck. My mom who was typically antisocial or shirked in the Kingdom Hall since her and my father had divorced, agreed. Leo was the greatest social organizer in all the circuit. He was a hairdresser for all of three congregations of JW’s in our area. He was the most popular Brother to be connected with. Leo loved to take all the “eccentric” young witnesses as he loved to call us freaks, and facilitate them doing spiritual activities and seeking culture together. He liked to gather the young people and all the “weird ones” and teach them how to cope within the religion. He would take us to plays and classic musical outings and the science center. He tried to get us to hang out together and do something “spiritual.” He tried to inspire us to talk about Jehovah in a more philosophical sense. He kept the elders away from us and was often an advocate and a medium between us kids and parents. He gave us all a safe “clean” place to just be and hang out. He gave us information in literature by encouraging us to read and seek culture. He even suggested books that held metaphysical meanings. He was an adult you could talk with almost honestly. He held wisdom and advice and sometimes would even stretch the rules to our benefit. I loved Leo Rather like an older brother. He was always so supportive and helpful through my youth. I was curious as to why Leo would want to hold a potluck at our house. My mom invited two sisters from Titusville and Cathy from our congregation. We didn’t know who Leo had invited.
I was indifferent to Leo’s proposal and was in dread of a JW gathering at our home. They are usually comprised of gossips who gather and discuss the “sins” of others and say, “tsk tsk too bad isn’t it?” It was always a hypocrisy event and people were often too shy to connect with each other.
On Friday during band class Troy was absent. He hadn’t been in school for two days and I was enjoying my freedom. I had ridden my bike to school and was riding home when I got a flat tire on my bike in his neighborhood. Troy was walking up the road towards me and I struggled with the bike. I finally decided I needed his help and went to his house reluctantly after he offered to fix the flat. I knew what was going to happen and did happen but somehow I was hypnotized by him. I fell asleep in his presence and shamefully followed his every command as if he had power over my every action. I could not disobey. This was the last time he ever put his hands on me. Still with my tire flat and reeking of the cigarette he smoked after fucking me I pushed my bike home the three miles and threw up when I got there. I hated myself. I scoured myself again and again in the shower and cried with anger and rage vowing that he would never lay a hand on me ever again. I slept hard that night with a headache.
I seemed to linger at the edge of sleep until a great grey curtain was lifted and I saw into a dream world as clear as day. Michael was there in a Victorian tuxedo. He was standing on the far end of a great hall. He had a glass of champagne in his hand and was instructing the orchestra to play Pachel’s Bell Cannon. When the music filled the room I realized I was in a stunning white and silver glittered dress holding a fan with white velvet gloved hands. Michael turned to look at me. He carried a fresh blood lipped white rose to me and asked to dance. The music shifted and merged into a great waltz and we were spinning under the chandelier. I looked into his eyes and entered a second dream where we were Indians on the great plains making fire with flint stones. He hummed and drummed an ancient song that sent my mind soaring into the black mountains. We were flying above the ravines with wings. He held me in the clouds and we sank to the sea and sprouted fins like mermaids. We transformed and mutated from deer to tree to sunflower to babies. We were everything and everyone together.
In the morning I vomited. I took a long hard look at myself in the mirror. My body had begun to evolve into the shapeliness of a young woman. My breasts were filling out and they were unusually tender. I didn’t think much of it at the time.
I was so caught up in dreaming about Michael that I role played with the mirror. I was talking to him and practicing what I would say. I imagined that I heard his voice speaking back and I practiced several “Hellos,” in the glass. I acted out what it was to be non-chalant or “cool.” I tried to behave as if I were an intellectual and then played cutesy. I heard the soft lulls of his syllables tuning in my mind. Then I realized that I could hear him audibly. Fear swam through me and I left the bathroom. I cast aside the hallucination as an overactive infatuated imagining.
My mother called to me that the potluck would be at 7:30p.m. I wondered if Leo would bring Michael. I was still wearing my surf shirt and pink/black spandex shorts from biking to a friend’s house when guests started to arrive. Usually these potlucks are very uptight events where everyone sits around the room in chairs eating silently with a plate of food in their lap. The energy in the air can be devastatingly tense and everyone has an anchoring fear that someone will say the wrong thing or not uphold “Christian Behavior.” Gossips love to attend these gatherings and are commonly the ones who begin the initial conversations. But I knew that this potluck would be small and relaxed because my mother had only invited three people and my brother Jeud and his “worldly” girlfriend Daphne would be there.
The bell rang at about 7:15 PM and my mom yelled to me from the kitchen to get the door. I didn’t try to prepare myself or expect anything but when I opened the door and saw Leo in his sharp black dress shirt, teal paisley tie, and the coiffure of his golden hair I knew that Leo had come to play Matchmaker. He smiled debonairly with his barber shop curled mustache and passed by with a “good evening” long and drawn out as the Butler at Disney’s Haunted Mansion. He winked as he called out for my mother. I looked back at the door and there was Michael with a long sleeved black dress shirt like Leo’s but wearing blue jeans and red All Star high tops (the ultimate sign of a freak in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.) I was delighted. He was just leaning on the door jam and grinning as if he were stone drunk in love with me. We stood there smiling at each other and breathing in each others presence deeply. I could hardly find the words to welcome him in and finally he asked if he could enter. He started looking around the living room and stretching his neck to look down the two hallways to the rooms.
“Where’s yours?” he whispered. I just pointed dumbly with angles and right turns silently explaining how to pass through one room to reach mine the refurbished garage. He winked big and said “OK,” in a whisper.
He started poking around the living room and picking up all of my mothers mauve duck and pale blue geese decorations. The tick tack Americana look was in at this time and anything “country manor” style was all the rage and my mother collected it. Michael pointed at the painted porcelain turkey on the hutch and muffled a hearty laugh and then shook his head. “What is this stuff?” He set the fake ivy plant back down and grinned at me more.
My mother had just had a small prep talk by Leo Rather about his intention for Michael and I to have a wholesome connection this evening under of course “strict supervision.” My mother was beaming with joy. For Leo Rather to bring a boy to her house for her daughter she believed that I was already as good as married to a faithful Jehovah’s Witness who would keep me in babies and credit cards all of my life.
Michael straightened up when the “adults” entered the room. Leo rushed up to Michael and made the “proper” introductions between him and my mother. Michael folded his arm behind his back and took my mother’s hand in a Renaissance Eddie Hascal (from Leave it to Beaver) move. My mother was overtly ecstatic and welcoming to Michael to the point that he looked me in the eye and nodded as if she was a fish on his hook and he had her under his thumb by way of his charm. It was so impressive I almost saw his teeth sparkle.
The whole event shifted from down right remarkably cheesy to romantic and dramatized for my own personal entertainment. No one saw the whole Michael except me no one understood the thoughts pulsing through his brain but I could read them. I could hear them.
He was laughing at all of the gossiping geese. He was patronizing them in their faces and they were suffocating with flattery. I thought he was the funniest and most ballsy person I had ever met. He dared to defy boundaries that had always been iron bars of “appropriate decorum” for me. He waved his fanny behind the back of one of the Sisters that later arrived and talked on and on about her Shitzu dog and its pedigree papers.
He asked to read some of my other poems and I handed him a pile. He sat down and read them with his full attention nodding and laughing, and sighing. He held up one and clasped it to his heart. “This one!” He said. “This one is my favorite.”
It was a poem I had written a long time ago called, “Coming of Age.” It was strangely from the perspective of a nine year old boy turning ten. I remembered when I wrote it I wasn’t sure why I had used a boy’s voice, but now I felt clear that I had somehow heard Michael even then and wrote out his own thoughts.
Leo was in the middle of a discussion with Christy when he said to Michael, “Michael what was that Carpenter’s song you like so much?”
Michael was sitting beside me on the couch and broke into song. “Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near-just like me they long to be close to you.” At the same moment he let his hand that held the poem fall and rested it on my thigh. I thought my heart would burn right out of my rib cage and land in his lap.
Daphne and Jeud came out of the bedroom in an obvious disheveled state. Jeud zipped up his pants and Daphne was adjusting her bra strap and straightening her hair when they realized they had just stumbled into a room of disapproving stares. Michael laughed outright at the gawking silent chickens. Jeud grinned back to Michael as a conquering king who had his meat. Michael laughed again. My mother turned a cocked eye to him and he pretended to be in deep thought about the Shitzu.
Daphne felt the cold stares of the Witnesses pierce her through. We all knew what they had just been up to. She walked over to me and grabbed my hand. “Let’s go to your room Lily!” she choked out and we walked briskly out of the room with Jeud and Michael following.
My room was once a garage and it had a raised wood floor that I was constantly painting and re painting. I practiced swirls and hand prints and shapes and images on the floor with wax and crayons and other mediums that I had scrounged up.
The walls were a stark white with art and typical teenage crap on the walls. The white was comforting to me. It brought a sense of serenity and coolness to the room with a one foot by one foot window. I would change light bulbs and the whole room would have a new mystique to it. Michael noted the green bulb in the lamp. My brother Arthur had painted a huge mural of the ocean on one of the walls when he had lived in the room and there was a book shelf heavy with texts on the adjacent wall. I had a red meditation chair in the corner in front of the air conditioner and Michael went straight for this chair and sat half lotus absorbing in the whole scene. He scanned the titles of the books by running one long finger across the leather bound volumes of Dickens, Shakespeare, Shelley, Barret Browning, Bronte Sisters, Austen, Doyle, Joyce, and The Hardy Boys. He looked over to me and said under his breath, “Impressive.”
I was swooning at the recognition.
My brother Jeud had long since decided that he was no longer a Jehovah’s Witness. He seemed to have decided the day our Dad moved out seven years earlier. He sat with Daphne on his lap and his hand on her thigh which would have sent the JWs into a purple faced rage. Michael and I relaxed in their mellowness and began talking like “normal” people. Jeud started to ask Michael questions about what he does for fun.
“Well I ride my bike.” Michael said modestly.
“Your bike ey?” Jeud smiled wanting more answer than that. He put on his investigative protective big brother hat and decided to test Michael to see his worthiness for his little sister. “Where do you ride your bike then?”
Michael recognized the energy thickening and he smiled at me with a knowing look. “I ride my BMX bike off the cliff at Turkey Creek into the water. Oh its only about a fifty foot drop or more.” He reclined back into the chair. The test had begun.
Jeud looked intently at him. “You’re crazy man. There’s gators in that water huh?”
Michael nodded cooly and folded his arms in affirmation. Jeud looked even more intently at him but before he could ask another question Michael interjected. “What do you do Jeud?” in a split second Michael looked at Daphne as he emphasized the word “do.” This instantly put Jeud on the defensive and he sat upright and slid Daphne off of his lap.
“Well Michael. I ‘Do’ my own form of martial arts. I run the length of Wickham Park twice a week and Do all of the balance beams and bars and then I scale a tree or two before I Do one handed hand stands on the fence in the back yard while holding an aikido staff.” Jeud leaned back and squeezed Daphne enjoying this battle of the mind. Jeud flexed his right arm muscle as evidence.
Michael smiled. “Impressive Mr. Dagon. Very Impressive. I am building a half pipe in Ron Guss’ yard right now. Perhaps we could do some bike tricks together.” Michael knew that Jeud didn’t know how to do BMX tricks.
“Well perhaps you can run the gambit with me sometime?” Jeud extended, knowing that Michael hadn’t ever done any of the things he had accomplished. I recognized this as a way of drawing respect between them and agree not to fuck with each other. Michael had passed the big brother test and I sighed with a huge sense of release.
“Lily,” Michael directed his attention to me, “Have you really read all of these books?”
“Yes and more. Really I just can’t keep them all. I trade them and sell them so I can get more. My mom doesn’t really give me any money to keep up with my reading habit.”
Just then my mother bellowed that dinner was ready and we should all “come an’ get it!” An endless moment passed of Michael and I just staring at each other from across my room then we realized that Daphne and Jeud had left and we had better not be “caught alone.”
We filed into the dining room and sat down around the hardwood table. I sat across from Michael so I could look at him. Jeud and Daphne came in and piled their plates up with side dishes and went back to Jeud’s room to watch TV. Daphne had bought him a TV, VCR, and Cable so they could spend inexplicable lengths of time in Jeud’s room undisturbed.
Michael grinned at the steaming pasta shells stuffed with green veggies and cheese. He was pleased that it was meatless and this made him all the more attractive and romantic to me. I was so caught in a daze of wanderlust that I hadn’t noticed him smiling to my mother and thanking her for the “gorgeous meal.” He was sucking up to her in the most classic way a boy who wants to date a woman’s daughter would. He had piled ten pasta shells onto his plate with no side dishes and was about to raise the fork to his mouth when it dawned on me.
My mother is not a good cook and for years I had managed to eat meals at as many of my friend’s houses as I could and I had not yet warned Michael at all. In the JWs you eat what is given to you and should clean your plate. So it is vital at the home of a poor cook to only take enough to show respect because otherwise you have to eat it all. He hadn’t noticed how Jeud and Daphne avoided the main dish or how no one else had hurried to touch it. He was the guinea pig and everyone was sitting there watching him in amazement and curiosity to see if he would survive the first bite. The tension was building and everyone seemed to tighten with it.
Michael noticed everyone staring at him and he paused with the fork just at his mouth and I whispered silently to him shaking my head “no.” He smiled bravely and winked and put the whole heaping helping into his mouth. He paused and his face went cold and everyone leaned forward in anticipation. Then he swallowed it down in one big gulp and smiled again. Everyone leaned back and sighed. I was in a state of total shock and love for him. He had done it. He had eaten my mother’s food with a smile. My Mom grinned at him with adoration.
My mother had confused one pound of spinach with one pound of parsley and she had mixed it into the ricotta filling. She had also used a kind of salsa for the red sauce instead of a spaghetti sauce. Michael ate another bite and the tension mellowed even more and people began to fill their plates. The joke was on all of them when they took their first bite and realized it hadn’t been safe to follow in his footsteps. Everyone chewed silently and quickly and gulped down their water.
Michael broke the quiet, “Sister Dagon this is fantastic! This is delicious!” and he put ten more shells on his plate. My mother patted him like a good boy and she beamed with pride. She was sold on Michael. She was totally in love with him and had he asked for my hand in marriage in that moment she would have given a whole hearted “Yes.” He scraped his plate and then licked it. He reached over and scraped the pan with the spoon and my mother was flustered with joy. All I saw was a heroic display of blatant sarcasm.
You may think that this was a typical fifteen year old infatuation with the exception of the visions but it wasn’t typical at all. I had been praying for Michael to come to me from a deep and dark place. I had struggled through months of horrible fear and terrible suffering. Michael was a god send. He was the answer.
I had never been so high in all of my life. And now that my Prince Charming had come I had to somehow get out of the clutches of the wicked demon who was suffocating me. My mind raced with questions and confusion and love.
After dinner everyone separated into teams to play Trivial Pursuit. Michael and I became a team. It was a strange experience with deja vus. It was just like when we were twelve at the Holiday Inn when we played The Tree of Life game as a team. We began to mimic each other unconsciously and synchronize into simultaneous behavior. This group however seemed pleased with this coincidence and thought it to be endearing and cute. Leo Rather winked at me in favor. One question came up to Michael and I about which state is the corn state. I totally thought it was Kansas and Michael argued it to be Iowa. I didn’t trust him and I insisted that he agree with me. He caved and said “okay Kansas.” I was wrong and we lost the game. I immediately felt our energies drop and disharmony sank into my bones. I was so afraid that he wouldn’t like me now that I had questioned him and brought us to failure.
Everyone except us got up from the dining table and shifted to other parts of the living room to relax and gossip. We tried to talk about movies we had seen and music that we both liked but every once in awhile a voice from the living room would try to redirect our conversation away from “worldly things.”
Michael sat there tapping his fingers on the table lost in a tune and then suddenly said, “you got any paper?”
“Sure.” I said and brought pens and paper to the table.
He took a sheet and whizzed down some sentences faster than I had ever seen anyone write and then he spun the paper back to me across the table. He had written a full rhyming poem in less than a minute. I was astounded and impressed. It was beautiful heady and questioning. It was philosophical and esoteric and I understood every word of it. My excitement led me to scribble down a poem as quickly as he had and spin it over to him. He scanned the words with savory eyes and put his hand on his heart. He looked me in the face and reached over and squeezed my hand before anyone could see. My skin was on fire from his touch and he was already lost in writing another poem. My passion for him and his lust for life rode high in my heart and I was in a stupor of pleasure. He was a thinker, a feeler, and a poet. I was lost in love.
We began to write simultaneously and then trade our poetry. The thoughts seemed to align. The themes were the same for each one we traded. We began to laugh and laugh at the strangeness and mirroring that we were lost in. It was uncanny.
He began to write more direct words to me; real questions about the universe and god. He wasn’t so sure of anything except love and even that seemed to have limits in his world. I pitied the limits and held compassion for his uncertainty. I felt like there was so much I could share with him and show him. I understood things that I didn’t think he understood. He understood things I had not yet considered and I craved to learn. I craved to hold him and caress him and care for him.
I began to respond to his questions with my reasoning and he responded with why and how and when and what and I bit my tongue for the place and circumstance that held me from speaking to him plainly and openly. I wrote the word “phone.” He nodded. He knew that we would speak more and more later.
Leo rose from the talking circle and came over to rub Michael’s shoulders and tell him it was time for them to go. Michael said he just wanted to write one more thing. He scribbled on a piece of paper and folded it in half and slid it across the table this time with his hand right into mine and squeezed. I knew that I was not supposed to read this until he left. I nodded.
We rose from the table and he followed me to my room to say good night to Daphne and Jeud and yet we both knew they were not in my room. He was right behind me and we walked into the darkness of my room and faced each other. I could see the glint of his glowing green eyes. We breathed heavily and just stared at each other’s form. He examined my face in the small slit of light from the door putting his hands on my elbows to steady my swaying. I began breathing more heavily and so did he. His touch was burning like hot metal and I was reading his mind more quickly than a movie in fast forward. I was remembering his lifetime and his dreams. I remembered his child hood and his mother. I remembered his future and I remembered our pasts. He basked me with love light, appreciation, compassion, and respect. Light energies that had been alien to me all of my life. His radiance was reaching me in ways beyond this lifetime and I didn’t understand anything about lifetimes. It was ancient and stunning.
“Michael!” Leo called from the living room. Michael smiled at me and his white teeth broke the shadows. He let go of my arms. “Goodnight.” He said and left me standing in the dark listening to the ringing of his thoughts in my brain.
I flipped the light on as soon as he exited I unfolded the paper and read it hungrily.
Stupidity is for the meek
Your beauty is not weak
Your mind so unbound
Your expression so confound
You write what is true and for this I love you.
I gasped at the words and ran out of my room to catch him before he left. Michael pretended like he was coming out of the bathroom and ran into me to make it look like he hadn’t been in my room just then.
“Oh my god excuse me I am sorry.” Ringing his hands as if he just washed them. He went to my mother, bowed to her gracefully, and kissed her hand. “Sister Dagon it was an honor. Thank you for such a lovely meal.” My mother smiled approvingly at me.
After all of the guests drove off my mom asked me all about Michael E. Pollux. I only knew that he was from the Palm Bay congregation and that he was beautiful. My mom said,” He is definitely the kind of boy I want you to date Lily. A sweet Christian boy. Not like that other one.”
She left me leaning against the wall clutching the poem to my chest dreaming of Michael.
The next day the phone rang at about 6pm after the Sunday service. It was Priscilla Tremaine a sister from the Palm Bay congregation that my mother truly did not like. Priscilla’s son Harold had done something with my brother Arthur that was still unknown to me but had held a definite feud between our families since. Priscilla had called to say that her son had been at our house the night before. My mom held the receiver tightly thinking about everyone who had been present and told Priscilla that none of her sons had been at our house. Then the stunned face of my mother locked with mine. She said, “I see Priscilla. Yes. Yes. Yes I totally agree. Goodbye.”
I tensed up wondering what was going on. I had heard Michael’s name a few times and fear struck me.
“Lily.” My mother spoke softly which was my warning. She always spoke softly when she was about to drop a bomb on me. “Lily that was Priscilla Tremaine, who is now Priscilla Pollux. You know Priscilla don’t you? You don’t remember her…well that’s good…I mean well, she is Michael’s step mother now. It seems that Priscilla remarried for a fourth time…”My mother grinded her teeth because divorce was almost illegal in our religion and if you got to remarry after a divorce it was a miracle. “Priscilla met Michael senior in AA meetings and they got married and then she was reinstated to the religion. So she brought Michael to the meetings to become a JW. His mother had raised him Catholic, poor thing, until then. You do know that Priscilla and I hate…I mean dislike each other very much don’t you? Yes. Well. I don’t want my dislike for her to have anything to do with you dating her son.”
I sighed relieved.
“However Lily, Priscilla wants you to have close supervision if you two want to spend any time together.” My mom sat next to me. “We’ve been invited to their house for a potluck next Sunday night.” This was a hard albeit graceful gesture of my mother to support my happiness. Priscilla had never been one of my mother’s favorite people.
I leaped inside. It seemed one week and one day would be a million and one years!!! I had to plan. I had to choose what I would wear. I had to write in my diary and look at my makeup and I had to sit and write Michael’s name a hundred thousand times. I was in a panic with ecstasy. I jumped up and down on the sofa squealing uncontrollably. He liked me. He liked me. He liked me.
I had to get my hair done. I had to see Leo. I begged my mom to take me in for a trim and for a slice of the most delectable gossip. What did Leo know about what Michael was thinking and feeling??I had to know and my mom made an appointment for Tuesday.
Leo worked at a swanky salon in West Melbourne named Carlowe’s. It had pink wooden flamingos and 1920’s flare with black and white checkered flooring and large palm trees. It was just Leo’s style. He grinned with a flair as soon as I stepped into the store. He knew my reason for an emergency trim.
After a tortuous half an hour he called me to the black leather swivel chair and began combing my long auburn hair back.
“Hi Leo. How are you?” I asked.
“HmmmmHmmm.” He murmured.
“How are things?” I asked.
“Things?” he said.
I was about to snap and go crazy. He knew why I had come. He knew why I was there. He motioned for me to get up and follow him to the sink where he had me sit and place my head in the bowl. He began washing my hair.
“It was so good of you to come over the other night.” I said loudly not hearing my own voice under the water pressure.
“Good?” he asked. But I could not hear him. He stopped the water for a moment. “Michael was so happy…”he turned the water on and I pulled my neck up as far as I could to hear him.
“Michael was happy about what?? What?? Pleeeeeeeze.” I pleaded like a hungry child.
“He was happy he kept your mother’s meal down.” Leo whispered in my ear. I laughed.
I knew Leo would tell me all now and that he was done torturing and teasing me. He sat me in the chair and began to tell me what Michael had said. He had called me “intelligent, beautiful, kind and a girl he felt like he could write to.”
I asked Leo to describe every wrinkle in his face every expression and pause. Leo laughed at me for he couldn’t remember such things. I begged him to try.
I left the salon three hours later with a full length spiral perm to my surprise and joy. It looked great and it was just the physical manifestation of my emotional upswing that I needed. It was the courage and new face I needed to tell Troy to go to hell. To break free.
Troy had given me a gold promise ring with an emerald set in it. I had taken it from him with indifference and wore it like a slave. I took it from my finger the night after I had met Michael at the circuit convention. Troy noticed its absence in class and grabbed my finger and bent it back.
“Where is the ring?” Troy asked.
“You are hurting me Troy let go!” I squirmed and looked around for our gym teacher who was in the boys locker room smoking bowls.
“What did you do with it you little whore?” He demanded.
“I took it off that’s all!” I yanked my finger free.
“Why’d you do that? Huh? Why? Huh?” He started to pin me between the wall and his body.
A boy yelled from across the court, “Hey you gonna fuck her right here Troy. Go for it! Does Lily know about your ho-dog fat bitch yet?”
Troy stepped back from me and started walking away. Rage shot through my core. “What ho-dog fat bitch Troy?!” I screamed.
He went over to the basket ball hoop and started taking shots.
“What? I don’t know what you are talking about.” He said.
The boy said, “Fuck. You’re a fucking liar too aren’t you dick? Fucking tell her or I will.”
Troy jumped the boy and began beating the shit out of him on the court. A circle formed and the other students began to cheer and taunt the two. This commotion stirred Coach Hugo from the locker room. He ran out on the court with his shoe laces untied and was pulling the draw string on his shorts. He was obviously stoned and in shock at the fight.
“Hey kids, hey kids cut it out.” He said with out wanting to get involved in the punching. No one was listening to him at all.. “Come on kids…awww come on cut it out…” Just then a right clip struck him in the face and knocked him out cold. Everyone gasped and spread out from each other. The fight moved and rolled into the hallway to right in front of Dean Kumkok’s office. He opened the door and in moments Troy was pinned against the floor with his arm tightly knotted behind his back. Kumkock shoved him into his office and slammed the door. The other boy stood baffled and sore.
“What about this ho-dog?” I asked him.
“What? Fuck it.” He said and walked away leaving me lost.
I went to my worldly friend Ione’s house that night and Troy showed up at my mom’s house with the police. She called me and told me that “the little bastard said, ‘Lily stole my sister’s engagement ring and I want it back or I will fuck her up.’ ” My mom was so disgusted and pissed that she told the cops to go to hell.
Troy called me at Ione’s house and she gave me the phone.
“I’ve got a new bitch.” He said. “I fuck her real good and she likes it more than you do.”
I was so sick in my stomach that I dropped the phone and puked twice. He called again and Ione told him that I had a new boyfriend and that I was pregnant. He told her to tell me, “She’s what–? Pregnant? You tell her that I will sew her pussy shut if she tries to fuck anyone else then fuck her mouth till I drown her.” I puked again and held onto the toilet bowl for support.
I hung up the phone on him and called my mother. I told her that I was puking constantly and that Troy had threatened me. She called my sister and she brought me home to take a pregnancy test.
It had been over a year since I had been raped the first time and now my mom was not asking questions. She paid my sister for the test and hugged me. I sat in the bathroom crying and beating my head into the wall. I thought about the possibility of being a fifteen year old mother. I thought about Welfare and dropping out of school. I cried about how cruel and cold Troy was and what it would mean to be connected to him the rest of my life. I thought about how everyone I knew in the Jehovah’s Witnesses would disown me and not speak to me again. I would be an outcast of my whole circle and even my parents didn’t have to talk with me again. The horror of complete alienation as well as pregnancy was far worse than the horror of blue in the little vial.
After an hour or so of psychological torment I exited the bathroom to find my anxious sister and mother sitting on the edge of their seats ringing their hands with two cups of tea gone cold in front of them.
“Negative.” I said and went into my room with a hard bitter face. I had just lied to them. I told them I was not pregnant even though the vial had turned blue. I lied because I thought that maybe I would lose the baby before it grew bigger. In any case I wasn’t going to let them begin terrorizing me with tears and screams on top of my own after just finding out that I was pregnant.
I went back to Ione’s house. I wandered around the woods next to her house and prayed allowed to Jehovah.
“Oh God. Merciful Jah. Please forgive me for my sins. For my shortcomings. I didn’t mean to get raped and I don’t know how to stop it from happening. Maybe Michael is the one? Maybe if I am with him I could become clean and pure again. Maybe Troy will leave me alone if he knows that there is another guy involved Maybe Michael would kick his ass….sorry god. I mean maybe he could protect me. Its like I am asleep and Troy has me hypnotized in a dream. Oh Jesus. Please. I am a wretched whore aren’t I? I was warned God. I was told not to talk with worldly boys and it’s all my fault. This poor baby. This poor pathetic thing. No. Its not pathetic, I am.” I reached the edge of the road and saw a large red pick up truck just making the corner a block away. The driver couldn’t see me and when it got close I leaped in front of it. Its headlights glared in my face and I put up my arms yet stayed still in the road. The tires screeched to a halt and the grill was just inches from my belly.
“What the fuck you doing?” the driver screamed in a panic. “Are you ok?”
I burst back into the woods without saying anything. I ran and ran around in circles screaming through the trees in the full moon begging for freedom, begging for truth, begging for love. I fell to my knees in the piney dirt and buried my face into the earth crying. Why was it no one understood the things I saw and felt. No one would believe me if I said them. My mother actually beat me for speaking about the ghosts and spirits and for doing yoga and now I would be disowned in my darkest hour.
“Please Jehovah let me have true love. Please God I will do anything I have to for Love. I
will be pure and honest and clean and righteous. I will walk in purity, truth, integrity. I won’t have sex until I am married. I swear! I swear! Strike me down if I break this vow! I love Michael. I feel him all through my soul and spirit. I am remembering him and loving him beyond anything I could possibly imagine. I can see our family in his eyes. I can see our future always in front of me clear as day. I dream about him. I hear him in my mind. I love him Jehovah! I love him! Please help me break free of Troy so that I can be loyal and true always for Michael. Please. Please if you do this I will keep all of your commandments. I swear. I swear I won’t mess up with Michael. I swear. And if I do….” I cried terribly, “Then you are righteous in taking him from me.”
I was in the woods for hours when I heard Ione’s mother calling for me. She was saying there was someone on the phone for me.
When I got to the front porch I stopped and looked at the dozen or so moths that were beating their brains against the porch light. They were buzzing and smashing in to each other with obsession. They loved the light. They loved the source and I decided that is what I would love. I would love it at the cost of my life and my life would be an example like these moths.
I went in and answered the phone. It was Troy’s sister. “Hello you little cunt. I’ve got the two hundred bucks to abort your little puppy. I am picking you up in an half hour and we are going to have a little visit to a clinic in the morning. You are going to stay with me tonight–so you don’t get away.”
“Fuck you!” I screamed and slammed down the phone. By now Ione’s parents were becoming aware that something was terribly wrong but they didn’t ask.
Ione was in her room and I went in and she held me for hours. Ione was in band class with me and knew the whole story from beginning to present. “You can live with us Lily. I will share my room with you and you can help with the farming and you could stay with us.” She stroked my hair and wiped my tears.
“Ione you have six sisters and this is only a three bedroom house…” I was touched by her endearment.
“They say that after you graduate that you only keep in touch with two of your friends that you knew from school. I want you to be one of them.” She said and we hugged each other with that desperate feeling that all things are tearing apart at the same time they are coming together. We knew that time would turn us into adults and somehow we would be put adrift by our own lives and lose each other in the seas of circumstance. It was these moments in my youth that I still hold as the most transformative and soul shaping and I hold Ione in me still although I have not seen her since.
A few weeks later I miscarried. It began in gym class first period. I began bleeding through my jeans and being sick in the gym locker room. A girl passed me a terry cloth towel and patted my back. (She knew because her face was written all over mine.) She had lost a baby in the same stall one month ago. I was in shock at the non-chalant-ness of it all. Somehow it was acceptable that many of us were flushing our unborn at Lyndon B. Johnson Jr. high gym and there weren’t any teachers, parents, or adults who treated us with enough respect to trust them. I stayed in the stall until the last bell. I wrapped my jean jacket around my bloody pants and boarded the school bus home.
I had lost so much blood that by the time I got home I was dazed by the heat. I went into my empty house and left the front door wide open. I went into the bathroom and repeated what had become a ritualistic scouring of my body. I was in the bath tub with the shower on beating me down into the maroon water and I passed out.
I don’t remember waking and drying myself and getting into my bed. My mother was not home yet. I fancied that my guardian angel Asuna had helped me to bed. I have a faint memory of rustling of wings like the sound of a river in the distance or the soft sound of taffeta skirts skimming a dance floor. I remember the white and pale blue swirls in the air above the tub and a gentleness that descended and lit the shower. The light made the crude scene seem like a dream. She had come in, drained the tub, wrapped me in her wings, and then tucked me into bed with me chanting “Michael” in a whisper.
I never told Michael about this miscarriage. I didn’t want it to become “that thing” that happened with “the guy” before him. I didn’t tell him about anything except the first rape. Michael was a virgin. When he told me this I was so freaked out because here he is “the one”; the one that I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. He is my dream god and I have just been defiled the year before we connected. I let sleeping dogs lie.
When I told him about the rape it was over the phone. We had made several mostly supervised phone calls with all phases of important discussions. Yet it was at night when Michael would call my house and let the phone ring once and then call again and I knew it would be him. I would take the phone into my room and unplug the phone in the living room so no one would hear it ring.
He was so gentle upon hearing the word rape yet I could hear him pounding the wall with his fist. He took the word to a place so deep in his soul that he felt my pain pulse through his fist and into the wall. His voice stayed soft and present with me though it shook with anger and tears. I told him everything that happened about leaving my body. What I saw. And my angel. I took a huge risk in trusting Michael with this information because I could have been dis-fellowshipped for even speaking about it. He believed me. He was not anyone I need fear.
When the dust settled from the confession Michael opened to me like a dark velvet diamond shaped corridor. I closed my eyes and pressed the phone to my face. I could see into a place in his self that was unreal and ponderous to me. The corridor led through a misty soft curtain into a castle tower and he sat in the rising dawn in long dark robes of navy wool beside a window that looked out to sea. There were piles of rolled up parchment and dusty large hand scribed books piled about. He raised the hood on his cloak and showed me his face. Though consumed for many lifetimes with the pursuit of wisdom his face was frail and thin like a child’s glowing with blue pulses and green eyes. His visage was unearthly and shifted with colors and lights.
He said, “My mother died when I was nine years old.”
I stood in this room looking into his face and there was no emotion in connection to the words. The child like features were stern and shifting into adult features and then on to those of a tired old man. All of these ages were overlapping on his face and I pressed the phone tighter into my ear trying to breathe him through the receiver.
He reached his hands out and placed them on my elbows and squeezed. “I didn’t cry at the funeral when they buried her. I wouldn’t give them my tears.”
My heart wrenched with his pain and I writhed about in my bed kicking with frustration and hanging on his words. The vision was filling me with a bittersweet feeling that all things were coming and going and in their coming I was celebrating the buds of spring and in their going I was mourning the leaves of fall. I felt like Michael and I were the center of a tornado and even it was taking it’s affect on us. His face became a child’s again. His eyes widened with innocence.
“And you Lily… you have made me cry for the first time in six years. You have made a man cry like a baby when a child could not mourn his own mother. You have moved this in me like the sky wiping away with the wind. You are my wind and my hope.”
In the vision the heat of his hands began to burn my true arms and I arched my back with the brand of his astral touch. There were no words exchanged for some time on the phone and in that time he knelt down and held me about the waist with his head on my belly. In the phone I heard his sobs heavy like a Sunday morning thunderstorm on the Indian river.
Much later on a different night, I dared to ask, “How?”
His voice stiffened and he hissed, “Cancer.”
From then on we were inseparably on the phone. He would light the night with his poetry. He told me all about The Doors. Michael was going to Jim Morrison’s high school and he found this most inspiring. Jim’s poetry is what really interested Michael. Michael would go on and on philosophizing Jim’s words and noted that “L.A. Woman” could be read as “LAW-O-Man.” Michael was fascinated that Palm Bay High was once known as Melbourne High school and Jim Morrison had attended his high school. He would mention a song and be shocked into playing it over the phone because I had not yet heard of it. Some nights it was a whole album. Other nights it was himself picking on his guitar and singing the lullabies of his sorrow.
He told me about what it was like to be a Catholic which lasted until his wicked step mother Priscilla married his Dad and decided that “little Michael” as she called him needed to be reformed into the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He hated the guilt, the shame, the feeling that “this just ain’t right.” He wanted something real and true and physical from heaven that he could have, hold, and love. He believed in god. He believed that there was some jolly man in the sky smoking pot and smiling down on us if he wasn’t also smashing us and grinding us into the pavement like ants. Michael’s views went all across the per-spectrum. He saw Nepal as the Mount Zion manifest and the Pacific Ring of Fire as a the portal to another world. He questioned if Atlantian colony once floated there and if when it sank the ring was left in tribute by all the humble volcanoes drowning on the ocean floor.
He talked in poetry-speak. His authentic heart uttered words that were mere translations from other realms. The words could not fit the magic of the places that inspired them. Yet, I was speechless with their profound dancing. It was as if the Druid in Michael held the stars in a chalice and could drink from them till his heart’s content and still with all the glory of his cup he would spit out his disdain for the lower thoughts of anger and suffering. He was a man on his perch above the world circling and circling bound to the earth with a great mysterious curse that he was determined to unwind and seek fearlessly.
The death of his mother drove him to question the limits of his spirit and the tests of his body. He was BMX biker at the beginning of the Extreme Sports movements. He did bike tricks ten feet in the air over a half pipe ramp and laughed at his lack of gravity and his ability to defy death. When he was hurt from crashing the pain justified his rage against pain itself and he would jump back on his bike bleeding and broken only to do even better higher tricks.
He told me long stories about riding with his best friend Saul Niger and how they stole wood from construction sites to build illegal ramps. They rode into the high school and did tricks all night in the commons and even were chased by the police for riding on private property after city curfew. He was my bad boy. His life held so much excitement and adventure and I craved to be near him. He lived thirty minutes away in Palm Bay. We were both fifteen and weren’t allowed to drive. The distance was maddening.
When my mother drove me to Michael’s house for the potluck it dawned on me that he lived just a few houses down from Kerry Dublin my brother Jeud’s best friend. The Dublin family moved from next door to our house in Sherwood Forest Park, to Sea Crest Ave. Jeud and I use to visit Kerry’s almost every weekend. My mom would drop Jeud off at Kerry’s and then me at Vena’s. There were long afternoons where I would wait at that house while playing with the neighbor kids. As I looked at the yellow paint and brown shutters of Michael’s house and then down the road to Kerry’s I realized I knew who Michael was. I had memories of him as a child. I thought for a long time about the significance of meeting Michael at the “Dublin’s” and I romanticized that we were Celtic kin reincarnate.
My mom and I went up the driveway to find Michael grinning and pushing open the screen door.
“Welcome to my humble abode.” He bellowed and grinned mischievously at my mother and I.
We went inside to find that no one had yet arrived. Priscilla’s daughter from a previous marriage and her two year old son Judah were in the living room with Michael’s dad Michael senior. Priscilla was in the kitchen cooking. The house was colored in mauve like my house. It was the Wal-Mart look at the time. A large TV was the central focus of the room with two lazy boy chairs and a pit-group sofa. We all sat down facing each other and said our “hellos” and “nice-to-meet-yous” then the air fell dead silent and Michael was antsy for activity. He looked around the room at everyone staring down and clapped his hands together loudly. We all jerked to attention.
“I rented some movies for tonight Lily.” He said excitedly. “Have you ever seen Wuthering Heights?” My head jerked. My heart throbbed with melting liquid chocolate fire. “Have you ever read it?” he asked my blank dumfounded face. “Do you know the Bronte sisters?”
I sort of nodded and then muttered. “I love Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.”
“Well good!” he said, “Because I rented Jane Eyre too!”
I was overwhelmed. This adonis with all his beauty, his words, his poetry, was also a fan of Victorian Gothic Novels about true love! I couldn’t have chosen a man more perfect for me if I had to carve him out of stone myself. My tongue became a thick dead fish in my mouth and his enthusiasm washed over me like a torrent of waves. I was in ecstatic bliss. He used my silence to get up and sit closer to me. He held out the video tapes They were both four hours long. They were the BBC extended author’s versions. All I could do was nod my head and reflect his excitement.
“They action flicks Michael?” his dad asked.
“No dad they’re romances.” Michael replied with a lisp and laughed at his dad. He looked back at me and winked.
Priscilla came out of the kitchen to see what the commotion was about. “Michael no don’t scare the poor thing.”
“What? I didn’t….”He began and she cut him off. He made a silly face at me behind her back.
“Give me the child!” Priscilla swooped him up. “Libby why don’t you and Michael go to Wal Mart and get a wipe board and some erasable pens so we can play Pictionary.”
Libby gathered her bags together and her and Michael left the house. I sat there stunned at his absence.
His dad looked at me. Michael senior waved his hand towards the door. “Well, go with them.”
I looked at my mom and she nodded to me and I leaped up and ran to the door. The idea of being with Michael with his Step sister driving us to the Mart was a small dream come true. It was an opportunity to talk with him unattended and unsupervised in a public place. I was so excited by the idea that I missed them completely. I watched the minivan disappear up the road. I came back inside flustered and disappointed. I sat down again only to be asked to answer the knock at the door.
I opened the door and there stood the GQ magazine stylie Puerto Rican boy that Michael was with at the circuit convention. He looked at me breathless. His BMX bike tossed aside in the grass. He had one hand on the door jam and was taking deep breaths. “You.” He said surprised.
I knew his name was Saul Niger. Saul. I knew he was said to be Michael’s best friend. But when he looked at me in the door frame I saw an ancient tie between me and this boy. I remembered him from imaginary pasts that made me shiver with fear and endearment and most of all pity. His face shifted and cleared into that of an old man bitter and worn with anguish and suffering yet determined and sinister with intent. I stepped out of the way to let him in. He walked past me and everyone as if he owned the house himself and helped himself to a large carafe of tap water.
Priscilla didn’t even look twice at him and she began to direct her attention away from the cooing sleeping Judah and to her guests that she had not yet greeted.
“Well Ophelia. Who woulda thought we’d be in this pickle?” Priscilla said to my mom and then looked over at me as if I were deaf.
My mom pursed her lips tightly at Priscilla’s looseness and said,” Yes and I trust that we are all cucumbers here and not other long hard things.”
Priscilla’s lips parted to respond and then she sealed them into a sly smile and nodded to her. “So Lily what are you studying in school?”
“Required stuff.” I said. I always hated that question–every child does. Fortunately there was another knock on the door and then another. More and more people began to show up for the potluck.
I watched the goose necked looks I got as each of the fattest roundest gossips of Brevard county Jehovah’s Witnesses showed up one after the other. Some blurted, “Oh my a Dagon!” and some hissed “Who’s that?” Especially Milly’s mother. She took one look at me and rushed up to Priscilla’s elbow, “Why where is your son and who is this bewitching creature?” Her southern sip accent did not hide her body language to me and the fact that she was shoving Milly at Priscilla, “You remember my daughter Milly? Where is Michael?”
I took a deep breath in and looked at the red haired girl who was about three inches taller than Michael and a year older. She had a silly momma’s girl face on but really was sweet after I began talking with her. I felt no competition from her and even noticed the resentment in her forehead when her mom squealed at Michael’s return.
He immediately came in and sat down next to me. He scrunched his face up and muttered, “Why didn’t you come?”
I just took a breath and shook my head at the swiftness of everything. Michael surveyed the twelve or so new arrivals. They were all older people from his Kingdom Hall and then others from various Kingdom Hall congregations in the area. I didn’t know any of them and felt intimidated for being out of my social region. They were all dressed like peacocks on their day off. They had on cloned clothing from K and Wal Mart. Nine out of ten had on thong flip flops but were wearing causal dress clothes that could be considered “appropriate” for field service door to door work. Michael and I were in blue jeans. He slapped my knee and I looked down and there was sticker on it. I smiled. He was so good at small distractions from the brain cloud of idle conversation.
I understood Michael’s attitude better. Here his real mother passed on and a year later his father meets Priscilla in AA and marries her. Then she moved into his mother’s house, redecorates it with mauve Wal Mart shit, brings over one of her daughters and her daughter’s husband to live with Michael and his Dad, and constantly has her other three children from four previous marriages in the house. Then she takes Michael out of St Joseph’s Catholic School and puts him into public school and then tells him he can’t be Catholic anymore nor can he have any of the religious holidays his mother tried so hard to teach him to love. And now she is throwing all these gossip centered potlucks in a religion he can not comprehend and he and I are being tortured by these headless hens poking at us “all in fun” about when we might get married! All he could do to keep from going insane was laugh. He began laughing out loud so hard that Priscilla hissed for him to stop. He leaped up and sat in front of the television and put on Wuthering Heights. This disturbed the energy in the room from connecting with each other to a forced viewing of a terribly bad version of this classic. Everyone became quiet and dull. Some of the gossips continued to chitter chat and some spoke out loud about how they’d “never wear such a thing” referring to the 17th century gowns in the film. As quickly as he had turned it on he looked at me and I nodded then he turned it off. The chickens clucked a despondent “why” then went on with their pecking at each other. Michael walked away and into his room waving his hands behind his ass like tail feathers and he even clucked in mockery of them. I began to laugh and I followed him into his room without looking back.
His room was not unlike stepping into a coffin. The wood paneled walls were dark and towering. He had no posters on the wall and nothing of real interest in the open save his guitar on the waterbed. Saul was already in the room sifting through records and fiddling with the stereo system. I was impressed that Michael had a whole stereo and turn table to himself. I only had a couple of Peter Paul and Mary tapes and a mono radio that my mom bought for me only because it was the same fuschia as one of her silk dresses.
Michael picked up the guitar and my whole breath deepened. He didn’t look at me when he began to play. I had never heard of anyone so good at playing guitar at such a young age. He was self taught. I looked at his fingers strumming the wires and his hair fell forward over his face like a curtain.
“Michael!” we heard his Dad yelling from the living room. “You kids come out here and socialize right this minute!”
The three of us laughed. Saul smirked, “Socialize this minute??” he questioned.
We went into the family room only to find that the prayer had already been said over dinner and Priscilla was upset that we had missed it. The group was restless from talk and wanted to get on with the Pictionary game. Michael sat next to me and tried to speak to me when a “sister” across the room interrupted asking him to get her more iced tea. He went and got her tea kindly and returned to my side. Milly’s mother then interrupted him and he was exacerbated. He ignored the next three people and tried to complete a sentence to me about Wuthering Heights when Priscilla yelped, “Michael listen when you are spoken to!”
He was so pissed that he got up walked out of the room and slammed the door to the garage. Everyone in the room said, “Oh my!” Priscilla became red faced and followed him with fire. She came back a moment later and smiled with an “everything is fine.” I used the opportunity to ask where the bathroom was and then high tailed into the garage.
In the garage was Brad. Brad was one of my dearest tomboy teachers of childhood. His mom Lou and my mom were really good friends. Brad and I had grown up together and spent many a night in a tree. I was so excited that Michael and Brad were good friends. Then also in the garage was Ron. His sister used to be on the prowl for my brother Jeud at circuit conventions but he couldn’t stand her. Ron was kind of a doofus. He was the kid that would jump off a cliff if you told him to. I never really got along with him. Brad was more level headed and grounded. Saul, Michael, Ron and Brad loved BMX biking. Brad and Ron were working on their bikes and Michael was sitting with his arms folded and his face in his hair. I sat beside him on a bucket.
He mumbled something. “What?” I asked.
He looked up through his hair and I could see tears searing his cheeks. “I just wanted to talk with you.” He whispered and it touched my heart like a child asking for a drink. I wanted to scoop him up and rock him to sleep in my arms and nurture him away from this stupid world and this stupid game.
“Errrr Don’t bother him he is perturbed.” Ron said and my frustration surfaced.
“Do you even know the definition of perturbed? Huh? DO YOU?” I growled. Michael began to laugh at Ron shrinking away.
“Jesus sorry Sister Dagon…gawd.” Ron muttered.
Michael was smiling at me with his arms folded and the gold light of sunset rippling behind him. He was like Thor to me, a Greek hero, or a knight in shining armor. He lifted his socked foot and set it on top of mine. He looked me directly into my eyes and said again, “All I want to do is talk with you.” I had a dizzy feeling come over my vision and it seemed that only his face was standing still. The whole garage, Ron, Brad, the bikes, everything was caught in a whirlpool of color. It was a high beam of energy surrounding us in a crystal bubble. I felt my throat throb and my head fall back as if I were drunk. My heart filled with a green soft liquid light. I could suddenly hear his thoughts, remember his dreams, feel his pains, his delights, his disappointment. It was all such a mix of bliss and pain that I felt sick with joy and sadness coinciding. We couldn’t hear Ron or Saul or Brad. We couldn’t hear when Priscilla entered the garage and stood inches from us yelling to go back inside. We were lost in time in a portal of shimmering endless breaths or sighs. Everything was gone. Everything was present. He was my everything.
His foot came off of mine and all of a sudden we were back.
We were both like what the fuck was that? We hadn’t heard Priscilla yelling at us from just one foot away to come back into the potluck and associate. Michael was so pissed off. He said he wanted to go next in Pictionary. He went back into the room and declared himself next. He got “don’t cry over spilled milk” and all the socialites were shocked because he was drawing these x-ed out eyes and a bottle over a big tongue. They were thinking he was drawing “get wasted.” I was laughing so hard because no one else knew what he was drawing and no one was talking. They were just watching him draw frantically and slap the picture with the palm of his hand over and over loudly. His hair was tossing all over and he grimaced at the despondent group. No one made a sound. I yelled “don’t cry over spilled milk.”
I finally got out of the room and found him in the kitchen a few minutes later. Michael was leaning against the counter stuffing his mouth with Oreos and crying when I walked in. This was the only time we really had to speak alone all evening. He immediately shoved an Oreo into my mouth and began telling me what had just happened. He had gone to his room and his father had come in and told him that he was making an ass out of himself and had punched him in the face. I was so outraged to find out that his father had beaten him in the next room at a God damn Jehovah’s Witness potluck with the chickens pretending like the ruckus was just the wind. Michael being hit was such an insult to what we were experiencing and we couldn’t even talk without all the mother cluckers around. And there was no way to explain what was going on to our parents.
Michael was telling me about his dad being a violent alcoholic and then we stepped forward to hug each other. When Priscilla stepped into the kitchen we had both our arms up to embrace and she said, “Oh my god what is going on?”
She grabbed my elbow and muttered something about being “inappropriate and loose” and I just looked back at Michael’s red eyes as he sarcastically grinned with Oreo mouth. The group broke up and my mother escorted me to the car.
I felt like it was eons before I got a phone call from him and when he did call it was screened. I could hear Priscilla breathing on the line and we talked like we were speaking through a well. Priscilla called first and she had to talk to my mom and then I got to talk. We were freaked out like the line was tapped. “Don’t say anything in front of them” I heard Michael in my head.. We didn’t understand why our parents were creating an environment like Nazi Germany. We didn’t understand why this was so difficult just to talk. Why our parents all of a sudden became obsessed with limiting our connection. My mother was more supportive and really liked Michael. But she detested Priscilla. She thought it was ridiculous for Priscilla to try to control our every connection and my mom even gave Michael an open invitation to come to our house any time he wanted.